Skip to main content

Full text of "The wind in the willows"

See other formats


KENNETH 
GRAHAME 


NY  PUBLIC  LIBRARY      THE  BRANCH  LIBRARIES 


3  3333  08119  0072 


vjr  >r  <xAr\  O-'TVN.  e. 
\xiv-v\e3L. 


G 147494 


THE   WIND    IN    THE   WILLOWS 


Tlif  Piper  at  t/ie  Gittcs  of  Dawn 


THE  WIND 
IN  THE  WILLOWS 

BY 

KENNETH    GRAHAME 


ILLUSTRATED       BY 

PAUL     BRANSOM 


NEW  YORK: 
CHARLES  SCRIBNEE'S  SONS 

> 

MCMXIII 


' 

. 


J 


Copyright,  1908.  1913.  by 
CHA.IiI.KS    SCUIBNEIt'S    SONS 


Published  October,  1913 


THE  MEW  YORK 

FDcLlC 


CONTENTS 


CHAPTER  PAGE 

I.    THE  RIVER  BANK 1 

II.    THE  OPEN  ROAD 27 

III.  THE  WLLD   WOOD 53 

IV.  MR.   BADGER 79 

V.    DULCE   DOMUM 1O7 

VI.    MR.  TOAD 139 

VII.  THE  PIPER  AT  THE   GATES   OF   DAWN     .     .  167 

VIII.     TOAD'S  ADVENTURES 191 

IX.    \VAYFARERS   ALL 219 

X.  THE   FURTHER  ADVENTURES  OF  TOAD.     .  253 

XI.  "LIKE      SUMMER     TEMPESTS      CAME      HIS 

TEARS" 287 

XII.  THE  RETURN  OF  ULYSSES  .  323 


•  •  -  •  •     .•••;• 
•• 


ILLUSTRATIONS 

The  Piper  at  the  Gates  of  Dawn       Frontispiece 

Facing  Page 

It  was  the  Water  Rat 8 

"  Come  011 !  "  he  said.     "  We  shall  just  have  to  walk  it "  5O 

lu  panic,  he  began  to  run 64 

Through  the  Wild  Wood  and  the  snow 94 

Toad  was  a  helpless  prisoner  in  the  remotest  dungeon  164 

He  lay  prostrate  in  his  misery  011  the  floor 196 

"It's  a  hard  life,  by  all  accounts,"  murmured  the  Rat  24O 

Dwelling  chiefly  on  his  own  cleverness,  and  presence 

of  mind  in  emergencies 292 

The  Badger  said,  "  Now  then,  follow  me ! " 326 


THE   RIVER   BANK 


THE   KIVER  BANK 

THE  Mole  had  been  working  very  hard  all 
the  morning,  spring-cleaning  his  little 
home.  First  with  brooms,  then  with  dusters; 
then  on  ladders  and  steps  and  chairs,  with  a 
brush  and  a  pail  of  whitewash;  till  he  had  dust 
in  his  throat  and  eyes,  and  splashes  of  white- 
wash all  over  his  black  fur,  and  an  aching  back 
and  weary  arms.  Spring  was  moving  in  the  air 
above  and  in  the  earth  below  and  around  him, 
penetrating  even  his  dark  and  lowly  little  house 
with  its  spirit  of  divine  discontent  and  longing. 
It  was  small  wonder,  then,  that  he  suddenly 
flung  down  his  brush  on  the  floor,  said,  "Bother!" 
and  "O  blow!"  and  also  "Hang  spring-clean- 
ing!" and  bolted  out  of  the  house  without  even 
waiting  to  put  on  his  coat.  Something  up  above 
was  calling  him  imperiously,  and  he  made  for 
the  steep  little  tunnel  which  answered  in  his 

3 


THE    WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

case  to  the  gravelled  carriage-drive  owned  by 
animals  whose  residences  are  nearer  to  the  sun 
and  air.  So  he  scraped  and  scratched  and 
scrabbled  and  scrooged,  and  then  he  scrooged 
again  and  scrabbled  and  scratched  and  scraped, 
working  busily  with  his  little  paws  and  mutter- 
ing to  himself,  "Up  we  go!  Up  we  go!"  till  at 
last,  pop!  his  snout  came  out  into  the  sunlight 
and  he  found  himself  rolling  in  the  warm  grass 
of  a  great  meadow. 

"This  is  fine!"  he  said  to  himself.  "This 
is  better  than  whitewashing!"  The  sunshine 
struck  hot  on  his  fur,  soft  breezes  caressed  his 
heated  brow,  and  after  the  seclusion  of  the 
cellarage  he  had  lived  in  so  long  the  carol  of 
happy  birds  fell  on  his  dulled  hearing  almost 
like  a  shout.  Jumping  off  all  his  four  legs  at 
once,  in  the  joy  of  living  and  the  delight  of 
spring  without  its  cleaning,  he  pursued  his  way 
across  the  meadow  till  he  reached  the  hedge  on 
the  further  side. 

"Hold  up!"  said  an  elderly  rabbit  at  the 
gap.  "Sixpence  for  the  privilege  of  passing  by 
the  private  road!"  He  was  bowled  over  in  an 

4 


THE   RIVER   BANK 

instant  by  the  impatient  and  contemptuous 
Mole,  who  trotted  along  the  side  of  the  hedge 
chaffing  the  other  rabbits  as  they  peeped  hur- 
riedly from  their  holes  to  see  what  the  row  was 
about.  "Onion-sauce!  Onion-sauce!"  he  re- 
marked jeeringly,  and  was  gone  before  they  could 
think  of  a  thoroughly  satisfactory  reply.  Then 
they  all  started  grumbling  at  each  other.  "How 
stupid  you  are!  Why  didn't  you  tell  him- 
"Well,  why  didn't  you  say — "  "You  might 
have  reminded  him  — "  and  so  on,  in  the  usual 
way;  but,  of  course,  it  was  then  much  too  late, 
as  is  always  the  case. 

It  all  seemed  too  good  to  be  true.  Hither 
and  thither  through  the  meadows  he  rambled 
busily,  along  the  hedgerows,  across  the  copses, 
finding  everywhere  birds  building,  flowers  bud- 
ding, leaves  thrusting  —  everything  happy,  and 
progressive,  and  occupied.  And  instead  of 
having  an  uneasy  conscience  pricking  him  and 
whispering  "whitewash!"  he  somehow  could 
only  feel  how  jolly  it  was  to  be  the  only  idle 
dog  among  all  these  busy  citizens.  After  all, 
the  best  part  of  a  holiday  is  perhaps  not  so  much 

5 


THE    WIND    IN   THE    WILLOWS 

to  be  resting  yourself,  as  to  see  all  the  other 
fellows  busy  working. 

He  thought  his  happiness  was  complete  when, 
as  he  meandered  aimlessly  along,  suddenly  he 
stood  by  the  edge  of  a  full-fed  river.  Never 
in  his  life  had  he  seen  a  river  before  —  this 
sleek,  sinuous,  full-bodied  animal,  chasing  and 
chuckling,  gripping  things  with  a  gurgle  and 
leaving  them  with  a  laugh,  to  fling  itself  on 
fresh  playmates  that  shook  themselves  free, 
and  were  caught  and  held  again.  All  was 
a-shake  and  a-shiver  —  glints  and  gleams  and 
sparkles,  rustle  and  swirl,  chatter  and  bubble. 
The  Mole  was  bewitched,  entranced,  fascinated. 
By  the  side  of  the  river  he  trotted  as  one  trots, 
when  very  small,  by  the  side  of  a  man  who 
holds  one  spellbound  by  exciting  stories;  and 
when  tired  at  last,  he  sat  on  the  bank,  while 
the  river  still  chattered  on  to  him,  a  babbling 
procession  of  the  best  stories  in  the  world,  sent 
from  the  heart  of  the  earth  to  be  told  at  last 
to  the  insatiable  sea. 

As  he  sat  on  the  grass  and  looked  across  the 
river,  a  dark  hole  in  the  bank  opposite,  just 

6 


THE   RIVER   BANK 

above  the  water's  edge,  caught  his  eye,  and 
dreamily  he  fell  to  considering  what  a  nice,  snug 
dwelling-place  it  would  make  for  an  animal 
with  few  wants  and  fond  of  a  bijou  riverside 
residence,  above  flood  level  and  remote  from 
noise  and  dust.  As  he  gazed,  something  bright 
and  small  seemed  to  twinkle  down  in  the  heart 
of  it,  vanished,  then  twinkled  once  more  like 
a  tiny  star.  But  it  could  hardly  be  a  star  in 
such  an  unlikely  situation;  and  it  was  too 
glittering  and  small  for  a  glow-worm.  Then, 
as  he  looked,  it  winked  at  him,  and  so  declared 
itself  to  be  an  eye ;  and  a  small  face  began  grad- 
ually to  grow  up  round  it,  like  a  frame  round  a 
picture. 

A  brown  little  face,  with  whiskers. 

A  grave  round  face,  with  the  same  twinkle  in 
its  eye  that  had  first  attracted  his  notice. 

Small  neat  ears  and  thick  silky  hair. 

It  was  the  Water  Rat! 

Then  the  two  animals  stood  and  regarded 
each  other  cautiously. 

"Hullo,  Mole!"  said  the  Water  Rat. 

"Hullo,  Rat!"  said  the  Mole. 

7 


THE   WIND    IN    THE    WILLOWS 

'Would  you  like  to  come  over?"  enquired 
the  Rat  presently. 

"Oh,  it 's  all  very  well  to  talk,"  said  the  Mole 
rather  pettishly,  he  being  new  to  a  river  and 
riverside  life  and  its  ways. 

The  Rat  said  nothing,  but  stooped  and  un- 
fastened a  rope  and  hauled  on  it;  then  lightly 
stepped  into  a  little  boat  which  the  Mole  had 
not  observed.  It  was  painted  blue  outside  and 
white  within,  and  was  just  the  size  for  two 
animals;  and  the  Mole's  whole  heart  went  out 
to  it  at  once,  even  though  he  did  not  yet  fully 
understand  its  uses. 

The  Rat  sculled  smartly  across  and  made 
fast.  Then  he  held  up  his  forepaw  as  the 
Mole  stepped  gingerly  down.  "Lean  on  that!" 
he  said.  "Now  then,  step  lively!"  and  the 
Mole  to  his  surprise  and  rapture  found  himself 
actually  seated  in  the  stern  of  a  real  boat. 

'This  has  been  a  wonderful  day!"  said  he, 
as  the  Rat  shoved  off  and  took  to  the  sculls 
again.  "Do  you  know,  I've  never  been  in  a 
boat  before  in  all  my  life." 

"What?"  cried  the  Rat,  open-mouthed: 

8 


It  was  tin'   H'tttrr  lint 


THE    RIVER   BANK 

"  Never  been  in  a  —  you  never  —  well  I  —  what 
have  you  been  doing,  then?" 

"Is  it  so  nice  as  all  that?"  asked  the  Mole 
shyly,  though  he  was  quite  prepared  to  believe 
it  as  he  leant  back  in  his  seat  and  surveyed 
the  cushions,  the  oars,  the  rowlocks,  and  all  the 
fascinating  fittings,  and  felt  the  boat  sway 
lightly  under  him. 

"Nice?  It 's  the  only  thing,"  said  the  Water 
Rat  solemnly  as  he  leant  forward  for  his  stroke. 
"Believe  me,  my  young  friend,  there  is  noth- 
ing —  absolute  nothing  —  half  so  much  worth 
doing  as  simply  messing  about  in  boats.  Simply 
messing,"  he  went  on  dreamily:  "messing  — 
about  —  in  —  boats;  messing - 

"Look  ahead,  Rat!"  cried  the  Mole  sud- 
denly. 

It  was  too  late.  The  boat  struck  the  bank 
full  tilt.  The  dreamer,  the  joyous  oarsman, 
lay  on  his  back  at  the  bottom  of  the  boat,  his 
heels  in  the  air. 

"—  about  in  boats  —  or  with  boats,"  the  Rat 
went  on  composedly,  picking  himself  up  with 
a  pleasant  laugh.  "In  or  out  of  'em,  it  doesn't 

9 


THE   WIND    IN    THE    WILLOWS 

matter.  Nothing  seems  really  to  matter,  that 's 
the  charm  of  it.  Whether  you  get  away,  or 
whether  you  don't;  whether  you  arrive  at  your 
destination  or  whether  you  reach  somewhere 
else,  or  whether  you  never  get  anywhere  at  all, 
you  're  always  busy,  and  you  never  do  anything 
in  particular;  and  when  you  've  done  it  there  's 
always  something  else  to  do,  and  you  can  do 
it  if  you  like,  but  you  'd  much  better  not.  Look 
here!  If  you  've  really  nothing  else  on  hand 
this  morning,  supposing  we  drop  down  the  river 
together,  and  have  a  long  day  of  it?" 

The  Mole  waggled  his  toes  from  sheer  happi- 
ness, spread  his  chest  with  a  sigh  of  full  con- 
tentment, and  leant  back  blissfully  into  the 
soft  cushions.  ''What  a  day  I  'm  having!"  he 
said.  "Let  us  start  at  once!" 

"Hold  hard  a  minute,  then!"  said  the  Rat. 
He  looped  the  painter  through  a  ring  in  his 
landing-stage,  climbed  up  into  his  hole  above, 
and  after  a  short  interval  reappeared  staggering 
under  a  fat  wicker  luncheon-basket. 

"Shove  that  under  your  feet,"  he  observed  to 
the  Mole,  as  he  passed  it  down  into  the  boat. 

10 


THE   RIVER   BANK 

Then  he  untied  the  painter  and  took  the  sculls 
again. 

"What's  inside  it?"  asked  the  Mole,  wrig- 
gling with  curiosity. 

"There 's  cold  chicken  inside  it,"  replied 
the  Rat  briefly:  " coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeef 
pickledgherkinssaladfrenchrollscresssandwiches 
pottedmeatgingerbeerlemonadesodawater  —  " 

"O  stop,  stop!"  cried  the  Mole  in  ecstasies. 
"This  is  too  much!" 

"Do  you  really  think  so?"  enquired  the  Rat 
seriously.  "It's  only  what  I  always  take  on 
these  little  excursions;  and  the  other  animals 
are  always  telling  me  that  I  'm  a  mean  beast 
and  cut  it  very  fine!" 

The  Mole  never  heard  a  word  he  was  saying. 
Absorbed  in  the  new  life  he  was  entering  upon, 
intoxicated  with  the  sparkle,  the  ripple,  the 
scents  and  the  sounds  and  the  sunlight,  he 
trailed  a  paw  in  the  water  and  dreamed  long 
waking  dreams.  The  Water  Rat,  like  the  good 
little  fellow  he  was,  sculled  steadily  on  and 
forbore  to  disturb  him. 

"I  like  your  clothes  awfully,  old  chap,"  he 

11 


THE   WIND    IN   THE    WILLOWS 

remarked  after  some  half  an  hour  or  so  had 
passed.  '  I  'm  going  to  get  a  black  velvet  smok- 
ing-suit  myself  some  day,  as  soon  as  I  can 
afford  it." 

"I  beg  your  pardon,"  said  the  Mole,  pulling 
himself  together  with  an  effort.  'You  must 
think  me  very  rude;  but  all  this  is  so  new  to 
me.  So  —  this  —  is  —  a  —  River ! " 

'  The  River,"  corrected  the  Rat. 

"And  you  really  live  by  the  river?  What  a 
jolly  life!" 

"By  it  and  with  it  and  on  it  and  in  it,"  said 
the  Rat.  "It 's  brother  and  sister  to  me,  and 
aunts,  and  company,  and  food  and  drink,  and 
(naturally)  washing.  It 's  my  world,  and  I  don't 
want  any  other.  What  it  hasn't  got  is  not 
worth  having,  and  what  it  doesn't  know  is 
not  worth  knowing.  Lord!  the  times  we  've 
had  together!  Whether  in  winter  or  summer, 
spring  or  autumn,  it 's  always  got  its  fun  and  its 
excitements.  When  the  floods  are  on  in  Febru- 
ary, and  my  cellars  and  basement  are  brimming 
with  drink  that 's  no  good  to  me,  and  the  brown 
water  runs  by  my  best  bedroom  window;  or 

12 


THE   RIVER    BANK 

again  when  it  all  drops  away  and  shows  patches 
of  mud  that  smells  like  plum-cake,  and  the 
rushes  and  weed  clog  the  channels,  and  I  can 
potter  about  dry  shod  over  most  of  the  bed  of 
it  and  find  fresh  food  to  eat,  and  things  careless 
people  have  dropped  out  of  boats!" 

"But  isn't  it  a  bit  dull  at  times?"  the  Mole 
ventured  to  ask.  "Just  you  and  the  river,  and 
no  one  else  to  pass  a  word  with?" 

"No  one  else  to  —  well,  I  mustn't  be  hard  on 
you,"  said  the  Rat  with  forbearance.  'You  're 
new  to  it,  and  of  course  you  don't  know.  The 
bank  is  so  crowded  nowadays  that  many  peo- 
ple ere  moving  away  altogether.  O  no,  it 
isn't  what  it  used  to  be,  at  all.  Otters,  king- 
fishers, dabchicks,  moorhens,  all  of  them  about 
all  day  long  and  always  wanting  you  to  do  some- 
thing —  as  if  a  fellow  had  no  business  of  his 
own  to  attend  to!" 

"What  lies  over  there?"  asked  the  Mole, 
waving  a  paw  towards  a  background  of  wood- 
land that  darkly  framed  the  water-meadows  on 
one  side  of  the  river. 

"That?  O,  that 's  just  the  Wild  Wood,"  said 

13 


THE    WIND    IN    THE    WILLOWS 

the  Rat  shortly.  '  We  don't  go  there  very  much, 
we  river-bankers." 

"Aren't  they-  -aren't  they  very  nice  people 
in  there?"  said  the  Mole  a  trifle  nervously. 

"W-e-11,"  replied  the  Rat,  "let  me  see.  The 
squirrels  are  all  right.  And  the  rabbits  -  -  some 
of  'em,  but  rabbits  are  a  mixed  lot.  And  then 
there  's  Badger,  of  course.  He  lives  right  in  the 
heart  of  it;  wouldn't  live  anywhere  else,  either, 
if  you  paid  him  to  do  it.  Dear  old  Badger! 
Nobody  interferes  with  him.  They  'd  better 
not,"  he  added  significantly. 

"Why,  who  should  interfere  with  him?"  asked 
the  Mole. 

"Well,  of  course  —  there  —  are  others,"  ex- 
plained the  Rat  in  a  hesitating  sort  of  way. 
"  Weasels  —  and  stoats  —  and  foxes  -  -  and  so  on. 
They  're  all  right  in  a  way  —  I  'm  very  good 
friends  with  them  —  pass  the  time  of  day  when 
we  meet,  and  all  that  —  but  they  break  out  some- 
times, there 's  no  denying  it,  and  then  -  -  well,  you 
can't  really  trust  them,  and  that 's  the  fact." 

The  Mole  knew  well  that  it  is  quite  against 
animal-etiquette  to  dwell  on  possible  trouble 

14 


THE   RIVER    BANK 

ahead,  or  even  to  allude  to  it;  so  he  dropped 
the  subject. 

"And  beyond  the  Wild  Wood  again?"  he 
asked;  :' where  it's  all  blue  and  dim,  and  one 
sees  what  may  be  hills  or  perhaps  they  mayn't, 
and  something  like  the  smoke  of  towns,  or  is  it 
only  cloud-drift?" 

"Beyond  the  Wild  Wood  comes  the  Wide 
World,"  said  the  Rat.  "And  that 's  something 
that  doesn't  matter,  either  to  you  or  me.  I  've 
never  been  there,  and  I  'm  never  going,  nor  you 
either,  if  you  've  got  any  sense  at  all.  Don't 
ever  refer  to  it  again,  please.  Now  then !  Here  's 
our  backwater  at  last,  where  we  're  going  to 
lunch." 

Leaving  the  main  stream,  they  now  passed 
into  what  seemed  at  first  sight  like  a  little  land- 
locked lake.  Green  turf  sloped  down  to  either 
edge,  brown  snaky  tree-roots  gleamed  below 
the  surface  of  the  quiet  water,  while  ahead  of 
them  the  silvery  shoulder  and  foamy  tumble  of 
a  weir,  arm-in-arm  with  a  restless  dripping  mill- 
wheel,  that  held  up  in  its  turn  a  grey-gabled 
mill-house,  filled  the  air  with  a  soothing  mur- 

15 


THE   WIND    IN   THE    WILLOWS 

mur  of  sound,  dull  and  smothery,  yet  with  little 
clear  voices  speaking  up  cheerfully  out  of  it  at 
intervals.  It  was  so  very  beautiful  that  the 
Mole  could  only  hold  up  both  forepaws  and 
gasp:  "O  my!  O  my!  O  my!" 

The  Rat  brought  the  boat  alongside  the  bank, 
made  her  fast,  helped  the  still  awkward  Mole 
safely  ashore,  and  swung  out  the  luncheon- 
basket.  The  Mole  begged  as  a  favour  to  be 
allowed  to  unpack  it  all  by  himself;  and  the 
Rat  was  very  pleased  to  indulge  him,  and  to 
sprawl  at  full  length  on  the  grass  and  rest,  while 
his  excited  friend  shook  out  the  table-cloth 
and  spread  it,  took  out  all  the  mysterious  pack- 
ets one  by  one  and  arranged  their  contents  in 
due  order,  still  gasping:  "O  my!  0  my!"  at 
each  fresh  revelation.  When  all  was  ready,  the 
Rat  said,  "Now,  pitch  in,  old  fellow!"  and  the 
Mole  was  indeed  very  glad  to  obey,  for  he  had 
started  his  spring-cleaning  at  a  very  early  hour 
that  morning,  as  people  will  do,  and  had  not 
paused  for  bite  or  sup;  and  he  had  been  through 
a  very  great  deal  since  that  distant  time  which 
now  seemed  so  many  days  ago. 

16 


THE   RIVER   BANK 

'What  are  you  looking  at?"  said  the  Rat 
presently,  when  the  edge  of  their  hunger  was 
somewhat  dulled,  and  the  Mole's  eyes  were  able 
to  wander  off  the  table-cloth  a  little. 

"1  am  looking,"  said  the  Mole,  "at  a  streak  of 
bubbles  that  I  see  travelling  along  the  surface 
of  the  water.  That  is  a  thing  that  strikes  me 
as  funny." 

"Bubbles?  Oho!"  said  the  Rat,  and  chir- 
ruped cheerily  in  an  inviting  sort  of  way. 

A  broad  glistening  muzzle  showed  itself  above 
the  edge  of  the  bank,  and  the  Otter  hauled  him- 
self out  and  shook  the  water  from  his  coat. 

"Greedy  beggars!"  he  observed,  making  for 
the  provender.  "Why  didn't  you  invite  me, 
Ratty?" 

"This  was  an  impromptu  affair,"  explained 
the  Rat.  "By  the  way  —  my  friend  Mr.  Mole." 

"Proud,  I'm  sure,"  said  the  Otter,  and  the 
two  animals  were  friends  forthwith. 

"Such  a  rumpus  everywhere!"  continued  the 
Otter.  "All  the  world  seems  out  on  the  river 
to-day.  I  came  up  this  backwater  to  try  and 
get  a  moment's  peace,  and  then  stumble  upon 

17 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

you  fellows!  -  -  At  least  -  - 1  beg  pardon  —  I 
don't  exactly  mean  that,  you  know." 

There  was  a  rustle  behind  them,  proceeding 
from  a  hedge  wherein  last  year's  leaves  still 
clung  thick,  and  a  stripy  head,  with  high 
shoulders  behind  it,  peered  forth  on  them. 

:<Come  on,  old  Badger!"  shouted  the  Rat. 

The  Badger  trotted  forward  a  pace  or  two, 
then  grunted,  "H'm!  Company,"  and  turned 
his  back  and  disappeared  from  view. 

"That's  just  the  sort  of  fellow  he  is!"  ob- 
served the  disappointed  Rat.  "Simply  hates 
Society!  Now  we  shan't  see  any  more  of  him 
to-day.  Well,  tell  us,  who's  out  on  the  river? ': 

"Toad 's  out,  for  one,"  replied  the  Otter. 
"In  his  brand-new  wager-boat;  new  togs,  new 
everything!" 

The  two  animals  looked  at  each  other  and 
laughed. 

"Once,  it  was  nothing  but  sailing,"  said  the 
Rat.  "Then  he  tired  of  that  and  took  to  punt- 
ing. Nothing  would  please  him  but  to  punt  all 
day  and  every  day,  and  a  nice  mess  he  made  of 
it.  Last  year  it  was  house-boating,  and  we  all 

18 


THE   RIVER   BANK 

had  to  go  and  stay  with  him  in  his  house-boat, 
and  pretend  we  liked  it.  He  was  going  to 
spend  the  rest  of  his  life  in  a  house-boat.  It 's 
all  the  same,  whatever  he  takes  up;  he  gets 
tired  of  it,  and  starts  on  something  fresh." 

"Such  a  good  fellow,  too,"  remarked  the  Otter 
reflectively;  "but  no  stability  —  especially  in  a 
boat!" 

From  where  they  sat  they  could  get  a  glimpse 
of  the  main  stream  across  the  island  that  sep- 
arated them;  and  just  then  a  wager-boat  flashed 
into  view,  the  rower  —  a  short,  stout  figure  - 
splashing  badly  and  rolling  a  good  deal,  but 
working  his  hardest.  The  Rat  stood  up  and 
hailed  him,  but  Toad  -  -  for  it  was  he  -  -  shook 
his  head  and  settled  sternly  to  his  work. 

"He  '11  be  out  of  the  boat  in  a  minute  if  he 
rolls  like  that,"  said  the  Rat,  sitting  down  again. 

"Of  course  he  will,"  chuckled  the  Otter. 
"Did  I  ever  tell  you  that  good  story  about  Toad 
and  the  lock-keeper?  It  happened  this  way. 
Toad  ..." 

An  errant  May-fly  swerved  unsteadily 
athwart  the  current  in  the  intoxicated  fashion 

19 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

affected  by  young  bloods  of  May-flies  seeing 
life.  A  swirl  of  water  and  a  "cloop!"  and  the 
May-fly  was  visible  no  more. 

Neither  was  the  Otter. 

The  Mole  looked  down.  The  voice  was  still  in 
his  ears,  but  the  turf  whereon  he  had  sprawled 
was  clearly  vacant.  Not  an  Otter  to  be  seen, 
as  far  as  the  distant  horizon. 

But  again  there  was  a  streak  of  bubbles  on 
the  surface  of  the  river. 

The  Rat  hummed  a  tune,  and  the  Mole  rec- 
ollected that  animal-etiquette  forbade  any  sort 
of  comment  on  the  sudden  disappearance  of 
one's  friends  at  any  moment,  for  any  reason  or 
no  reason  whatever. 

"Well,  well,"  said  the  Rat,  'I  suppose  we 
ought  to  be  moving.  I  wonder  which  of  us 
had  better  pack  the  luncheon-basket?"  He  did 
not  speak  as  if  he  was  frightfully  eager  for  the 
treat. 

"O,  please  let  me,"  said  the  Mole.  So,  of 
course,  the  Rat  let  him. 

Packing  the  basket  was  not  quite  such  pleas- 
ant work  as  unpacking  the  basket.  It  never 

20 


THE   RIVER   BANK 

is.  But  the  Mole  was  bent  on  enjoying  every- 
thing, and  although  just  when  he  had  got  the 
basket  packed  and  strapped  up  tightly  he  saw 
a  plate  staring  up  at  him  from  the  grass,  and 
when  the  job  had  been  done  again  the  Rat 
pointed  out  a  fork  which  anybody  ought  to 
have  seen,  and  last  of  all,  behold!  the  mustard 
pot,  which  he  had  been  sitting  on  without 
knowing  it  —  still,  somehow,  the  thing  got  fin- 
ished at  last,  without  much  loss  of  temper. 

The  afternoon  sun  was  getting  low  as  the 
Rat  sculled  gently  homewards  in  a  dreamy 
mood,  murmuring  poetry-things  over  to  him- 
self, and  not  paying  much  attention  to  Mole. 
But  the  Mole  was  very  full  of  lunch,  and  self- 
satisfaction,  and  pride,  and  already  quite  at 
home  in  a  boat  (so  he  thought) ,  and  was  getting 
a  bit  restless  besides:  and  presently  he  said, 
"Ratty!  Please,  I  want  to  row,  now!'3 

The  Rat  shook  his  head  with  a  smile.  "Not 
yet,  my  young  friend,"  he  said;  "wait  till 
you  've  had  a  few  lessons.  It 's  not  so  easy  as 
it  looks." 

The  Mole  was  quiet  for  a  minute  or  two. 

21 


TI1K    WIND    IN    THE    WILLOWS 

But  he  began  to  feel  more  and  more  jealous  of 
Rat,  sculling  so  strongly  and  so  easily  along, 
and  his  pride  began  to  whisper  that  he  could 
do  it  every  bit  as  well.  He  jumped  up  and 
seized  the  sculls  so  suddenly  that  the  Rat,  who 
was  gazing  out  over  the  water  and  saying  more 
poetry-things  to  himself,  was  taken  by  surprise 
and  fell  backwards  off  his  seat  with  his  legs 
in  the  air  for  the  second  time,  while  the  tri- 
umphant Mole  took  his  place  and  grabbed  the 
sculls  with  entire  confidence. 

"Stop  it,  you  silly  ass!"  cried  the  Rat,  from 
the  bottom  of  the  boat.  'You  can't  do  it! 
You'll  have  us  over!" 

The  Mole  flung  his  sculls  back  with  a  flourish, 
and  made  a  great  dig  at  the  water.  He  missed 
the  surface  altogether,  his  legs  flew  up  above 
his  head,  and  he  found  himself  lying  on  the  top 
of  the  prostrate  Rat.  Greatly  alarmed,  he  made 
a  grab  at  the  side  of  the  boat,  and  the  next 
moment  -  -  Sploosh ! 

Over  went  the  boat,  and  he  found  himself 
struggling  in  the  river. 

O  my,  how  cold  the  water  was,  and  O,  how 

22 


THE   RIVER   BANK 

very  wet  it  felt!  How  it  sang  in  his  ears  as  he 
went  down,  down,  down!  How  bright  and  wel- 
come the  sun  looked  as  he  rose  to  the  surface 
coughing  and  spluttering!  How  black  was  his 
despair  when  he  felt  himself  sinking  again! 
Then  a  firm  paw  gripped  him  by  the  back  of 
his  neck.  It  was  the  Rat,  and  he  was  evidently 
laughing  —  the  Mole  could  feel  him  laughing, 
right  down  his  arm  and  through  his  paw,  and 
so  into  his  —  the  Mole's  —  neck. 

The  Rat  got  hold  of  a  scull  and  shoved  it 
under  the  Mole's  arm;  then  he  did  the  same 
by  the  other  side  of  him  and,  swimming  behind, 
propelled  the  helpless  animal  to  shore,  hauled 
him  out,  and  set  him  down  on  the  bank,  a 
squashy,  pulpy  lump  of  misery. 

When  the  Rat  had  rubbed  him  down  a  bit, 
and  wrung  some  of  the  wet  out  of  him,  he  said, 
"Now  then,  old  fellow!  Trot  up  and  down  the 
towing-path  as  hard  as  you  can,  till  you  're 
warm  and  dry  again,  while  I  dive  for  the 
luncheon-basket." 

So  the  dismal  Mole,  wet  without  and  ashamed 
within,  trotted  about  till  he  was  fairly  dry,  while 

23 


THE   AVIND    IN   THE    WILLOWS 

the  Rat  plunged  into  the  water  again,  recovered 
the  boat,  righted  her  and  made  her  fast,  fetched 
his  floating  property  to  shore  by  degrees,  and 
finally  dived  successfully  for  the  luncheon-basket 
and  struggled  to  land  with  it. 

When  all  was  ready  for  a  start  once  more, 
the  Mole,  limp  and  dejected,  took  his  seat  in 
the  stern  of  the  boat;  and  as  they  set  off,  he 
said  in  a  low  voice,  broken  with  emotion, 
"Ratty,  my  generous  friend!  I  am  very  sorry 
indeed  for  my  foolish  and  ungrateful  conduct. 
My  heart  quite  fails  me  when  I  think  how  I 
might  have  lost  that  beautiful  luncheon-basket. 
Indeed,  I  have  been  a  complete  ass,  and  I  know 
it.  Will  you  overlook  it  this  once  and  forgive 
me,  and  let  things  go  on  as  before? '! 

"That's  all  right,  bless  you!'"  responded  the 
Rat  cheerily.  'AVhat's  a  little  wet  to  a  AArater 
Rat?  I'm  more  in  the  water  than  out  of  it 
most  days.  Don't  you  think  any  more  about 
it;  and  look  here!  I  really  think  you  had 
better  come  and  stop  with  me  for  a  little  time. 
It's  very  plain  and  rough,  you  know  —  not  like 
Toad's  house  at  all  —  but  you  haven't  seen 

24 


THE   RIVER   BANK 

that  yet;    still,  I  can  make  you  comfortable. 
And  I  '11  teach  you  to  row  and  to  swim,  and 

you  '11  soon  be  as  handy  on  the  water  as  any  of 

?  ? 
us. 

The  Mole  was  so  touched  by  his  kind  manner 
of  speaking  that  he  could  find  no  voice  to 
answer  him;  and  he  had  to  brush  away  a  tear 
or  two  with  the  back  of  his  paw.  But  the 
Rat  kindly  looked  in  another  direction,  and 
presently  the  Mole's  spirits  revived  again,  and 
he  was  even  able  to  give  some  straight  back- 
talk  to  a  couple  of  moorhens  who  were  snigger- 
ing to  each  other  about  his  bedraggled  appear- 
ance. 

When  they  got  home,  the  Rat  made  a  bright 
fire  in  the  parlour,  and  planted  the  Mole  in  an 
arm-chair  in  front  of  it,  having  fetched  down  a 
dressing-gown  and  slippers  for  him,  and  told 
him  river  stories  till  supper-time.  Very  thrill- 
ing stories  they  were,  too,  to  an  earth-dwelling 
animal  like  Mole.  Stories  about  weirs,  and 
sudden  floods,  and  leaping  pike,  and  steamers 
that  flung  hard  bottles  -  -  at  least  bottles  were 
certainly  flung,  and  from  steamers,  so  presum- 

25 


THE   WIND    IN    THK    WILLOWS 

ably  by  them;  and  about  herons,  and  how  par- 
ticular they  were  whom  they  spoke  to;  and 
about  adventures  down  drains,  and  night-fish- 
ings with  Otter,  or  excursions  far  a-field  with 
Badger.  Supper  \vas  a  most  cheerful  meal;  but 
very  shortly  afterwards  a  terribly  sleepy  Mole 
had  to  be  escorted  upstairs  by  his  considerate 
host,  to  the  best  bedroom,  where  he  soon  laid 
his  head  on  his  pillow  in  great  peace  and  con- 
tentment, knowing  that  his  new-found  friend, 
the  River,  was  lapping  the  sill  of  his  window. 

This  day  was  only  the  first  of  many  similar 
ones  for  the  emancipated  Mole,  each  of  them 
longer  and  full  of  interest  as  the  ripening  sum- 
mer moved  onward.  He  learnt  to  swim  and  to 
row,  and  entered  into  the  joy  of  running  water; 
and  with  his  ear  to  the  reed-stems  he  caught, 
at  intervals,  something  of  what  the  wind  went 
whispering  so  constantly  among  them. 


II 

THE   OPEN   ROAD 


II 

THE   OPEN   ROAD 

"OATTY,"    said    the    Mole    suddenly,    one 
-1^*  bright  summer  morning,  "if  you  please, 
I  want  to  ask  you  a  favour." 

The  Rat  was  sitting  on  the  river  bank,  sing- 
ing a  little  song.  He  had  just  composed  it 
himself,  so  he  was  very  taken  up  with  it,  and 
would  not  pay  proper  attention  to  Mole  or  any- 
thing else.  Since  early  morning  he  had  been 
swimming  in  the  river,  in  company  with  his 
friends,  the  ducks.  And  when  the  ducks  stood 
on  their  heads  suddenly,  as  ducks  will,  he  would 
dive  down  and  tickle  their  necks,  just  under 
where  their  chins  would  be  if  ducks  had  chins, 
till  they  were  forced  to  come  to  the  surface 
again  in  a  hurry,  spluttering  and  angry  and 
shaking  their  feathers  at  him,  for  it  is  impossible 
to  say  quite  all  you  feel  when  your  head  is  under 
water.  At  last  they  implored  him  to  go  away 

29 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

and  attend  to  his  own  affairs  and  leave  them 
to  mind  theirs.  So  the  Rat  went  away,  and 
sat  on  the  river  bank  in  the  sun,  and  made  up 
a  song  about  them,  which  he  called: 

"DUCKS'  DITTY." 

All  along  the  backwater, 
Through  the  rushes  tall, 
Ducks  are  a-dabbling, 
Up  tails  all! 

Ducks'  tails,  drakes'  tails, 
Yellow  feet  a-quiver, 
Yellow  bills  all  out  of  sight 
Busy  in  the  river! 

Slushy  green  undergrowth 
Where  the  roach  swim — 
Here  we  keep  our  larder, 
Cool  and  full  and  dim. 

Everyone  for  what  he  likes! 
We  like  to  be 
Heads  down,  tails  up, 
Dabbling  free! 

High  in  the  blue  above 
Swifts  whirl  and  call — 
We  are  down  a-dabbling 
Up  tails  all! 

30 


THE   OPEN   ROAD 

"I  don't  know  that  I  think  so  very  much  of 
that  little  song,  Rat,"  observed  the  Mole  cau- 
tiously. He  was  no  poet  himself  and  didn't 
care  who  knew  it;  and  he  had  a  candid  nature. 

"Nor  don't  the  ducks  neither,"  replied  the 
Rat  cheerfully.  "They  say,  ''Why  can't  fellows 
be  allowed  to  do  what  they  like  when  they  like 
and  as  they  like,  instead  of  other  fellows  sitting 
on  banks  and  watching  them  all  the  time  and 
making  remarks  and  poetry  and  things  about 
them?  What  nonsense  it  all  is!'  That 's  what 
the  ducks  say." 

"So  it  is,  so  it  is,"  said  the  Mole,  with  great 
heartiness. 

"No,  it  isn't!"  cried  the  Rat  indignantly. 

"Well  then,  it  isn't,  it  isn't,"  replied  the  Mole 
soothingly.  "But  what  I  wanted  to  ask  you 
was,  won't  you  take  me  to  call  on  Mr.  Toad? 
I  've  heard  so  much  about  him,  and  I  do  so 
want  to  make  his  acquaintance." 

"Why,  certainly,"  said  the  good-natured  Rat, 
jumping  to  his  feet  and  dismissing  poetry  from 
his  mind  for  the  day.  "Get  the  boat  out,  and 
we  '11  paddle  up  there  at  once.  It's  never  the 

31 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

wrong  time  to  call  on  Toad.  Early  or  late,  he's 
always  the  same  fellow.  Always  good-tempered, 
always  glad  to  see  you,  always  sorry  \vhen  you 

go!"" 

'He  must  be  a  very  nice  animal,"  observed 
the  Mole,  as  he  got  into  the  boat  and  took  the 
sculls,  while  the  Rat  settled  himself  comfort- 
ably in  the  stern. 

"He  is  indeed  the  best  of  animals,"  replied 
Rat.  "So  simple,  so  good-natured,  and  so  affec- 
tionate. Perhaps  he  's  not  very  clever  -  -  we 
can't  all  be  geniuses;  and  it  may  be  that  he 
is  both  boastful  and  conceited.  But  he  has  got 
some  great  qualities,  has  Toady." 

Rounding  a  bend  in  the  river,  they  came  in 
sight  of  a  handsome,  dignified  old  house  of  mel- 
lowed red  brick,  with  well-kept  lawns  reaching 
down  to  the  water's  edge. 

"There's  Toad  Hall,"  said  the  Rat;  "and 
that  creek  on  the  left,  where  the  notice-board 
says,  'Private.  No  landing  allowed,'  leads  to 
his  boat-house,  where  we  '11  leave  the  boat. 
The  stables  are  over  there  to  the  right.  That 's 
the  banqueting-hall  you  're  looking  at  now  — 

32 


THE   OPEN   ROAD 

very  old,  that  is.  Toad  is  rather  rich,  you 
know,  and  this  is  really  one  of  the  nicest  houses 
in  these  parts,  though  we  never  admit  as  much 
to  Toad." 

They  glided  up  the  creek,  and  the  Mole 
shipped  his  sculls  as  they  passed  into  the  shadow 
of  a  large  boat-house.  Here  they  saw  many 
handsome  boats,  slung  from  the  cross-beams  or 
hauled  up  on  a  slip,  but  none  in  the  water;  and 
the  place  had  an  unused  and  a  deserted  air. 

The  Rat  looked  around  him.  "I  understand," 
said  he.  'Boating  is  played  out.  He  's  tired 
of  it,  and  done  with  it.  I  wonder  what  new 
fad  he  has  taken  up  now?  Come  along  and 
let 's  look  him  up.  We  shall  hear  all  about  it 
quite  soon  enough." 

They  disembarked,  and  strolled  across  the  gay 
flower-decked  lawns  in  search  of  Toad,  whom 
they  presently  happened  upon  resting  in  a  wicker 
garden-chair,  with  a  pre-occupied  expression  of 
face,  and  a  large  map  spread  out  on  his  knees. 

" Hooray!"  he  cried,  jumping  up  on  seeing 
them,  'this  is  splendid!"  He  shook  the  paws 
of  both  of  them  warmly,  never  waiting  for  an 

33 


THE   WIND    IN    THE    WILLOWS 

introduction  to  the  Mole.  'How  kind  of  you!" 
he  went  on,  dancing  round  them.  'I  was  just 
going  to  send  a  boat  down  the  river  for  you, 
Ratty,  with  strict  orders  that  you  were  to  be 
fetched  up  here  at  once,  whatever  you  were 
doing.  I  want  you  badly  —  both  of  you.  Now 
what  will  you  take?  Come  inside  and  have 
something!  You  don't  know  how  lucky  it  is, 
your  turning  up  just  now!" 

"Let 's  sit  quiet  a  bit,  Toady!"  said  the  Rat, 
throwing  himself  into  an  easy  chair,  while  the 
Mole  took  another  by  the  side  of  him  and  made 
some  civil  remark  about  Toad's  "delightful  resi- 
dence." 

"Finest  house  on  the  whole  river,"  cried  Toad 
boisterously.  "Or  anywhere  else,  for  that  mat- 
ter," he  could  not  help  adding. 

Here  the  Rat  nudged  the  Mole.  Unfortu- 
nately the  Toad  saw  him  do  it,  and  turned  very 
red.  There  was  a  moment's  painful  silence. 
Then  Toad  burst  out  laughing.  "All  right, 
Ratty,"  he  said.  "It 's  only  my  way,  you  know. 
And  it 's  not  such  a  very  bad  house,  is  it?  You 
know,  you  rather  like  it  yourself.  Now,  look 

34 


THE   OPEN   ROAD 

here.  Let 's  be  sensible.  You  are  the  very 
animals  I  wanted.  You  've  got  to  help  me. 
It's  most  important!" 

''It 's  about  your  rowing,  I  suppose,"  said  the 
Rat,  with  an  innocent  air.  "You  're  getting  on 
fairly  well,  though  you  splash  a  good  bit  still. 
With  a  great  deal  of  patience  and  any  quantity 
of  coaching,  you  may — " 

"O,  pooh!  boating!"  interrupted  the  Toad, 
in  great  disgust.  "Silly  boyish  amusement. 
I  've  given  that  up  long  ago.  Sheer  waste  of 
time,  that 's  what  it  is.  It  makes  me  downright 
sorry  to  see  you  fellows,  who  ought  to  know 
better,  spending  all  your  energies  in  that  aim- 
less manner.  No,  I  've  discovered  the  real  thing, 
the  only  genuine  occupation  for  a  lifetime.  I 
propose  to  devote  the  remainder  of  mine  to  it, 
and  can  only  regret  the  wasted  years  that  lie 
behind  me,  squandered  in  trivialities.  Come 
with  me,  dear  Ratty,  and  your  amiable  friend 
also,  if  he  will  be  so  very  good,  just  as  far  as 
the  stable-yard,  and  you  shall  see  what  you 
shall  see!" 

He  led  the  way  to  the  stable-yard  accord- 

35 


THE    WIND    IN    THE    WILLOWS 

ingly,  the  Rat  following  with  a  most  mistrustful 
expression;  and  there,  drawn  out  of  the  coach- 
house into  the  open,  they  saw  a  gipsy  caravan, 
shining  with  newness,  painted  a  canary-yellow 
picked  out  with  green,  and  red  wheels. 

'There  you  are!"  cried  the  Toad,  straddling 
and  expanding  himself.  'There  's  real  life  for 
you,  embodied  in  that  little  cart.  The  open 
road,  the  dusty  highway,  the  heath,  the  com- 
mon, the  hedgerows,  the  rolling  downs!  Camps, 
villages,  towns,  cities!  Here  to-day,  up  and  off 
to  somewhere  else  to-morrow!  Travel,  change, 
interest,  excitement!  The  whole  world  before 
you,  and  a  horizon  that 's  always  changing!  And 
mind !  this  is  the  very  finest  cart  of  its  sort  that 
was  ever  built,  without  any  exception.  Come 
inside  and  look  at  the  arrangements.  Planned 
'em  all  myself,  I  did!" 

The  Mole  was  tremendously  interested  and 
excited,  and  followed  him  eagerly  up  the  steps 
and  into  the  interior  of  the  caravan.  The  Rat 
only  snorted  and  thrust  his  hands  deep  into  his 
pockets,  remaining  where  he  was. 

It  was  indeed  very  compact  and  comfortable. 

36 


THE   OPEN   ROAD 

Little  sleeping  bunks  -  -  a  little  table  that  folded 
up  against  the  wall  -  -  a  cooking-stove,  lockers, 
book-shelves,  a  bird-cage  with  a  bird  in  it;  and 
pots,  pans,  jugs,  and  kettles  of  every  size  and 
variety. 

"All  complete!"  said  the  Toad  triumphantly, 
pulling  open  a  locker.  '  You  see  —  biscuits, 
potted  lobster,  sardines  —  everything  you  can 
possibly  want.  Soda-water  here  —  baccy  there 
—  letter-paper,  bacon,  jam,  cards,  and  domi- 
noes —  you  '11  find,"  he  continued,  as  they  de- 
scended the  steps  again,  "you  '11  find  that  noth- 
ing whatever  has  been  forgotten,  when  we  make 
our  start  this  afternoon." 

'I  beg  your  pardon,"  said  the  Rat  slowly,  as 
he  chewed  a  straw,  "but  did  I  overhear  you  say 
something  about  'we,'  and  'start,'  and  'this 
afternoon'?' 

"Now,  you  dear  good  old  Ratty,"  said  Toad 
imploringly,  "don't  begin  talking  in  that  stiff 
and  sniffy  sort  of  way,  because  you  know  you  've 
got  to  come.  I  can't  possibly  manage  without 
you,  so  please  consider  it  settled,  and  don't 
argue  —  it 's  the  one  thing  I  can't  stand.  You 

37 


THE   WIND    IN   THE    WILLOWS 

surely  don't  mean  to  stick  to  your  dull  fusty 
old  river  all  your  life,  and  just  live  in  a  hole  in 
a  bank,  and  boat?  I  want  to  show  you  the 
world!  I  'm  going  to  make  an  animal  of  you, 
my  boy!" 

'I  don't  care,"  said  the  Rat  doggedly.  'I  'in 
not  coming,  and  that 's  flat.  And  I  am  going  to 
stick  to  my  old  river,  and  live  in  a  hole,  and 
boat,  as  I  've  always  done.  And  what  's  more, 
Mole  's  going  to  stick  to  me  and  do  as  I  do, 
aren't  you,  Mole?" 

"  Of  course  I  am,"  said  the  Mole,  loyally.  "  I'll 
always  stick  to  you,  Rat,  and  what  you  say  is  to 
be  -  -  has  got  to  be.  All  the  same,  it  sounds  as 
if  it  might  have  been  -  -  well,  rather  fun,  you 
know!"  he  added  wistfully.  Poor  Mole!  The 
Life  Adventurous  was  so  new  a  thing  to  him, 
and  so  thrilling;  and  this  fresh  aspect  of  it  was 
so  tempting;  and  he  had  fallen  in  love  at  first 
sight  with  the  canary-coloured  cart  and  all  its 
little  fitments. 

The  Rat  saw  what  was  passing  in  his  mind, 
and  wavered.  He  hated  disappointing  people, 
and  he  was  fond  of  the  Mole,  and  would  do 

38 


THE   OPEN   ROAD 

almost  anything  to  oblige  him.  Toad  was  watch- 
ing both  of  them  closely. 

"Come  along  in,  and  have  some  lunch,"  he 
said,  diplomatically,  "and  we'll  talk  it  over. 
We  needn't  decide  anything  in  a  hurry.  Of 
course,  /  don't  really  care.  I  only  want  to  give 
pleasure  to  you  fellows.  'Live  for  others!' 
That 's  my  motto  in  life." 

During  luncheon  — •  which  was  excellent,  of 
course,  as  everything  at  Toad  Hall  always  was 
—  the  Toad  simply  let  himself  go.  Disregard- 
ing the  Rat,  he  proceeded  to  play  upon  the 
inexperienced  Mole  as  on  a  harp.  Naturally  a 
voluble  animal,  and  always  mastered  by  his 
imagination,  he  painted  the  prospects  of  the 
trip  and  the  joys  of  the  open  life  and  the  road- 
side in  such  glowing  colours  that  the  Mole 
could  hardly  sit  in  his  chair  for  excitement. 
Somehow,  it  soon  seemed  taken  for  granted  by 
all  three  of  them  that  the  trip  was  a  settled 
thing;  and  the  Rat,  though  still  unconvinced 
in  his  mind,  allowed  his  good-nature  to  over- 
ride his  personal  objections.  He  could  not  bear 
to  disappoint  his  two  friends,  who  were  already 

39 


THE   WIND    IN    THE    WILLOWS 

deep  in  schemes  and  anticipations,  planning  out 
each  day's  separate  occupation  for  several  weeks 
ahead. 

When  they  were  quite  ready,  the  now  trium- 
phant Toad  led  his  companions  to  the  paddock 
and  set  them  to  capture  the  old  grey  horse,  who, 
without  having  been  consulted,  and  to  his  own 
extreme  annoyance,  had  been  told  off  by  Toad 
for  the  dustiest  job  in  this  dusty  expedition. 
He  frankly  preferred  the  paddock,  and  took  a 
deal  of  catching.  Meantime  Toad  packed  the 
lockers  still  tighter  with  necessaries,  and  hung 
nose-bags,  nets  of  onions,  bundles  of  hay,  and 
baskets  from  the  bottom  of  the  cart.  At  last 
the  horse  was  caught  and  harnessed,  and  they 
set  off,  all  talking  at  once,  each  animal  either 
trudging  by  the  side  of  the  cart  or  sitting  on 
the  shaft,  as  the  humour  took  him.  It  was  a 
golden  afternoon.  The  smell  of  the  dust  they 
kicked  up  was  rich  and  satisfying;  out  of  thick 
orchards  on  either  side  the  road,  birds  called 
and  whistled  to  them  cheerily;  good-natured 
wayfarers,  passing  them,  gave  them  "Good 
day,"  or  stopped  to  say  nice  things  about  their 

40 


THE   OPEN   ROAD 

beautiful  cart;  and  rabbits,  sitting  at  their  front 
doors  in  the  hedgerows,  held  up  their  fore-paws, 
and  said,  "O  my!  O  my!  O  my!" 

Late  in  the  evening,  tired  and  happy  and 
miles  from  home,  they  drew  up  on  a  remote 
common  far  from  habitations,  turned  the  horse 
loose  to  graze,  and  ate  their  simple  supper  sit- 
ting on  the  grass  by  the  side  of  the  cart.  Toad 
talked  big  about  all  he  was  going  to  do  in  the 
days  to  come,  while  stars  grew  fuller  and  larger 
all  around  them,  and  a  yellow  moon,  appearing 
suddenly  and  silently  from  nowhere  in  partic- 
ular, came  to  keep  them  company  and  listen  to 
their  talk.  At  last  they  turned  in  to  their  little 
bunks  in  the  cart;  and  Toad,  kicking  out  his 
legs,  sleepily  said,  ''Well,  good  night,  you  fel- 
lows! This  is  the  real  life  for  a  gentleman! 
Talk  about  your  old  river!" 

"I  dont  talk  about  my  river,"  replied  the 
patient  Rat.  "You  know  I  don't,  Toad.  But  I 
think  about  it,"  he  added  pathetically,  in  a  lower 
tone:  "I  think  about  it  —  all  the  time!" 

The  Mole  reached  out  from  under  his  blanket, 
felt  for  the  Rat's  paw  in  the  darkness,  and 

41 


THE    WIND    IN    THE    WILLOWS 

gave  it  a  squeeze.     ''I  '11  do  whatever  you  like, 
Ratty,"  he  whispered.     "Shall  we  run  away  to- 
morrow   morning,    quite    early  -  -  very   early  - 
and  go  back  to  our  dear  old  hole  on  the  river?" 

"No,  no,  we  '11  see  it  out,"  whispered  back  the 
Rat.  'Thanks  awfully,  but  I  ought  to  stick  by 
Toad  till  this  trip  is  ended.  It  wouldn't  be  safe 
for  him  to  be  left  to  himself.  It  won't  take 
very  long.  His  fads  never  do.  Good  night!" 

The  end  \\SLS  indeed  nearer  than  even  the 
Rat  suspected. 

After  so  much  open  air  and  excitement  the 
Toad  slept  very  soundly,  and  no  amount  of 
shaking  could  rouse  him  out  of  bed  next  morn- 
ing. So  the  Mole  and  Rat  turned  to,  quietly 
and  manfully,  and  while  the  Rat  saw  to  the 
horse,  and  lit  a  fire,  and  cleaned  last  night's 
cups  and  platters,  and  got  things  ready  for 
breakfast,  the  Mole  trudged  off  to  the  nearest 
village,  a  long  way  off,  for  milk  and  eggs  and 
various  necessaries  the  Toad  had,  of  course,  for- 
gotten to  provide.  The  hard  work  had  all  been 
done,  and  the  two  animals  were  resting,  thor- 
oughly exhausted,  by  the  time  Toad  appeared 

42 


THE   OPEN    ROAD 

on  the  scene,  fresh  and  gay,  remarking  what  a 
pleasant,  easy  life  it  was  they  were  all  leading 
now,  after  the  cares  and  worries  and  fatigues  of 
housekeeping  at  home. 

They  had  a  pleasant  ramble  that  day  over 
grassy  downs  and  along  narrow  by-lanes,  and 
camped,  as  before,  on  a  common,  only  this  time 
the  two  guests  took  care  that  Toad  should  do  his 
fair  share  of  work.  In  consequence,  when  the 
time  came  for  starting  next  morning,  Toad  was 
by  no  means  so  rapturous  about  the  simplicity 
of  the  primitive  life,  and  indeed  attempted  to 
resume  his  place  in  his  bunk,  whence  he  was 
hauled  by  force.  Their  way  lay,  as  before, 
across  country  by  narrow  lanes,  and  it  was  not 
till  the  afternoon  that  they  came  out  on  the 
high-road,  their  first  high-road;  and  there  dis- 
aster, fleet  and  unforeseen,  sprang  out  on  them 
—  disaster  momentous  indeed  to  their  expedi- 
tion, but  simply  overwhelming  in  its  effect  on 
the  after  career  of  Toad. 

They  were  strolling  along  the  high-road  easily, 
the  Mole  by  the  horse's  head,  talking  to  him, 
since  the  horse  had  complained  that  he  was 

43 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

being  frightfully  left  out  of  it,  and  nobody  con- 
sidered him  in  the  least;  the  Toad  and  the 
Water  Rat  walking  behind  the  cart  talking  to- 
gether -  -  at  least  Toad  was  talking,  and  Rat 
was  saying  at  intervals,  'Yes,  precisely;  and 
what  did  you  say  to  him  ?'  —  and  thinking  all 
the  time  of  something  very  different,  when  far 
behind  them  they  heard  a  faint  warning  hum, 
like  the  drone  of  a  distant  bee.  Glancing  back, 
they  saw  a  small  cloud  of  dust,  with  a  dark 
centre  of  energy,  advancing  on  them  at  incred- 
ible speed,  while  from  out  the  dust  a  faint 
" Poop-poop!"  wailed  like  an  uneasy  animal  in 
pain.  Hardly  regarding  it,  they  turned  to  re- 
sume their  conversation,  when  in  an  instant  (as 
it  seemed)  the  peaceful  scene  was  changed,  and 
with  a  blast  of  wind  and  a  whirl  of  sound  that 
made  them  jump  for  the  nearest  ditch,  It  was 
on  them!  The  "Poop-poop"  rang  with  a  brazen 
shout  in  their  ears,  they  had  a  moment's  glimpse 
of  an  interior  of  glittering  plate-glass  and  rich 
morocco,  and  the  magnificent  motor-car,  im- 
mense, breath-snatching,  passionate,  with  its 
pilot  tense  and  hugging  his  wheel,  possessed  all 

44 


THE   OPEN    ROAD 

earth  and  air  for  the  fraction  of  a  second,  flung 
an  enveloping  cloud  of  dust  that  blinded  and 
enwrapped  them  utterly,  and  then  dwindled  to 
a  speck  in  the  far  distance,  changed  back  into  a 
droning  bee  once  more. 

The  old  grey  horse,  dreaming,  as  he  plodded 
along,  of  his  quiet  paddock,  in  a  new  raw  situ- 
ation such  as  this,  simply  abandoned  himself  to 
his  natural  emotions.  Rearing,  plunging,  back- 
ing steadily,  in  spite  of  all  the  Mole's  efforts  at 
his  head,  and  all  the  Mole's  lively  language 
directed  at  his  better  feelings,  he  drove  the  cart 
backward  towards  the  deep  ditch  at  the  side  of 
the  road.  It  wavered  an  instant  —  then  there 
was  a  heart-rending  crash  —  and  the  canary- 
coloured  cart,  their  pride  and  their  joy,  lay  on 
its  side  in  the  ditch,  an  irredeemable  wreck. 

The  Rat  danced  up  and  down  in  the  road, 
simply  transported  with  passion.  'You  vil- 
lains!" he  shouted,  shaking  both  fists.  'You 
scoundrels,  you  highwaymen,  you  -  -  you  —  road- 
hogs!  -  - 1  '11  have  the  law  of  you!  I  '11  report 
you!  I'll  take  you  through  all  the  Courts!" 
His  home-sickness  had  quite  slipped  away  from 

45 


THE   WIND   IN   THE   WILLOWS 

him,  and  for  the  moment  he  was  the  skipper  of 
the  canary-coloured  vessel  driven  on  a  shoal  by 
the  reckless  jockeying  of  rival  mariners,  and  he 
was  trying  to  recollect  all  the  fine  and  biting 
things  he  used  to  say  to  masters  of  steam- 
launches  when  their  wash,  as  they  drove  too 
near  the  bank,  used  to  flood  his  parlour-carpet 
at  home. 

Toad  sat  straight  down  in  the  middle  of  the 
dusty  road,  his  legs  stretched  out  before  him, 
and  stared  fixedly  in  the  direction  of  the  dis- 
appearing motor-car.  He  breathed  short,  his 
face  wore  a  placid,  satisfied  expression,  and  at 
intervals  he  faintly  murmured  "Poop-poop!" 

The  Mole  was  busy  trying  to  quiet  the  horse, 
which  he  succeeded  in  doing  after  a  time.  Then 
he  went  to  look  at  the  cart,  on  its  side  in  the 
ditch.  It  was  indeed  a  sorry  sight.  Panels  and 
windows  smashed,  axles  hopelessly  bent,  one 
wheel  off,  sardine-tins  scattered  over  the  wide 
world,  and  the  bird  in  the  bird-cage  sobbing 
pitifully  and  calling  to  be  let  out. 

The  Rat  came  to  help  him,  but  their  united 
efforts  were  not  sufficient  to  right  the  cart. 

46 


THE   OPEN    ROAD 

"Hi!  Toad!"  they  cried.  "Come  and  bear  a 
hand,  can't  you!" 

The  Toad  never  answered  a  word,  or  budged 
from  his  seat  in  the  road;  so  they  went  to  see 
what  was  the  matter  with  him.  They  found 
him  in  a  sort  of  a  trance,  a  happy  smile  on  his 
face,  his  eyes  still  fixed  on  the  dusty  wake  of 
their  destroyer.  At  intervals  he  was  still  heard 
to  murmur  "Poop-poop!" 

The  Rat  shook  him  by  the  shoulder.  "Are  you 
coming  to  help  us,  Toad?"  he  demanded  sternly. 

"Glorious,  stirring  sight!"  murmured  Toad, 
never  offering  to  move.  'The  poetry  of  motion! 
The  real  way  to  travel !  The  only  way  to  travel ! 
Here  to-day  -  -  in  next  week  to-morrow !  Vil- 
lages skipped,  towns  and  cities  jumped  —  always 
somebody  else's  horizon!  O  bliss!  O  poop- 
poop!  O  my!  O  my!" 

"O  stop  being  an  ass,  Toad!"  cried  the  Mole 
despairingly. 

"And  to  think  I  never  knew!'  went  on  the 
Toad  in  a  dreamy  monotone.  "All  those  wasted 
years  that  lie  behind  me,  I  never  knew,  never 
even  dreamt!  But  now  —  but  now  that  I  know, 

47 


tt 
et 


THE    WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

now  that  I  fully  realise!  O  what  a  flowery  track 
lies  spread  before  me,  henceforth!  What  dust- 
clouds  shall  spring  up  behind  me  as  I  speed  on 
my  reckless  way!  What  carts  I  shall  fling  care- 
lessly into  the  ditch  in  the  wake  of  my  magnifi- 
cent onset !  Horrid  little  carts  —  common  carts 
—  canary-coloured  carts ! " 

'What  are  we  to  do  with  him?"   asked  the 
Mole  of  the  Water  Rat. 

Nothing  at  all,"  replied  the  Rat  firmly. 
Because  there  is  really  nothing  to  be  done. 
You  see,  I  know  him  from  of  old.  He  is  now 
possessed.  He  has  got  a  new  craze,  and  it 
always  takes  him  that  way,  in  its  first  stage. 
He  '11  continue  like  that  for  days  now,  like  an 
animal  walking  in  a  happy  dream,  quite  useless 
for  all  practical  purposes.  Never  mind  him. 
Let 's  go  and  see  what  there  is  to  be  done  about 
the  cart." 

A  careful  inspection  showed  them  that,  even 
if  they  succeeded  in  righting  it  by  themselves, 
the  cart  would  travel  no  longer.  The  axles 
were  in  a  hopeless  state,  and  the  missing  wheel 
was  shattered  into  pieces. 

48 


THE   OPEN    ROAD 

The  Rat  knotted  the  horse's  reins  over  his 
back  and  took  him  by  the  head,  carrying  the 
bird-cage  and  its  hysterical  occupant  in  the 
other  hand.  :<Come  on!"  he  said  grimly  to  the 
Mole.  "It's  five  or  six  miles  to  the  nearest 
town,  and  we  shall  just  have  to  walk  it.  The 
sooner  we  make  a  start  the  better." 

"But  what  about  Toad?"  asked  the  Mole 
anxiously,  as  they  set  off  together.  'We  can't 
leave  him  here,  sitting  in  the  middle  of  the  road 
by  himself,  in  the  distracted  state  he  's  in!  It 's 
not  safe.  Supposing  another  Thing  were  to 
come  along?" 

"O,  bother  Toad,"  said  the  Rat  savagely; 
"I  've  done  with  him." 

They  had  not  proceeded  very  far  on  their 
way,  however,  when  there  was  a  pattering  of 
feet  behind  them,  and  Toad  caught  them  up 
and  thrust  a  paw  inside  the  elbow  of  each  of 
them;  still  breathing  short  and  staring  into 
vacancy. 

Now,  look  here,  Toad ! "  said  the  Rat  sharply : 
as  soon  as  we  get  to  the  town,  you  '11  have  to 
go  straight  to  the  police-station  and  see  if  they 

49 


SI 

ft 


THE    WIND    IN   THE    WILLOWS 

know  anything  about  that  motor-car  and  who 
it  belongs  to,  and  lodge  a  complaint  against  it. 
And  then  you  '11  have  to  go  to  a  blacksmith's 
or  a  wheelwright's  and  arrange  for  the  cart  to 
be  fetched  and  mended  and  put  to  rights.  It  '11 
take  time,  but  it 's  not  quite  a  hopeless  smash. 
Meanwhile,  the  Mole  and  I  will  go  to  an  inn 
and  find  comfortable  rooms  where  we  can  stay 
till  the  cart 's  ready,  and  till  your  nerves  have 
recovered  their  shock." 

"  Police-station !  Complaint ! "  murmured  Toad 
dreamily.  'Me  complain  of  that  beautiful,  that 
heavenly  vision  that  has  been  vouchsafed  me! 
Mend  the  cart !  I  've  done  with  carts  for  ever. 
I  never  want  to  see  the  cart,  or  to  hear  of  it, 
again.  O  Ratty!  You  can't  think  how  obliged 
I  am  to  you  for  consenting  to  come  on  this  trip ! 
I  wouldn't  have  gone  without  you,  and  then  I 
might  never  have  seen  that  -  -  that  swan,  that 
sunbeam,  that  thunderbolt!  I  might  never  have 
heard  that  entrancing  sound,  or  smelt  that  be- 
witching smell!  I  owe  it  all  to  you,  my  best  of 
friends!" 

The  Rat  turned  from  him  in  despair.  'You 

50 


1 


"Come  on!"  he  said.     "We  shall  just 
have  to  walk  it" 


THE   OPEN    ROAD 

see  what  it  is?"  he  said  to  the  Mole,  addressing 
him  across  Toad's  head:  "He  's  quite  hopeless. 
I  give  it  up  —  when  we  get  to  the  town  we  '11  go 
to  the  railway  station,  and  with  luck  we  may 
pick  up  a  train  there  that  '11  get  us  back  to  river 
bank  to-night.  And  if  ever  you  catch  me  going 
a-pleasuring  with  this  provoking  animal  again !" 
—  He  snorted,  and  during  the  rest  of  that  weary 
trudge  addressed  his  remarks  exclusively  to 
Mole. 

On  reaching  the  town  they  went  straight  to 
the  station  and  deposited  Toad  in  the  second- 
class  waiting-room,  giving  a  porter  twopence  to 
keep  a  strict  eye  on  him.  They  then  left  the 
horse  at  an  inn  stable,  and  gave  what  directions 
they  could  about  the  cart  and  its  contents. 
Eventually,  a  slow  train  having  landed  them  at 
a  station  not  very  far  from  Toad  Hall,  they 
escorted  the  spellbound,  sleep-walking  Toad  to 
his  door,  put  him  inside  it,  and  instructed  his 
housekeeper  to  feed  him,  undress  him,  and  put 
him  to  bed.  Then  they  got  out  their  boat  from 
the  boat-house,  sculled  down  the  river  home, 
and  at  a  very  late  hour  sat  down  to  supper  in 

51 


THE   WIND   IN   THE    WILLOWS 

their  own  cosy  riverside  parlour,  to  the  Rat's 
great  joy  and  contentment. 

The  following  evening  the  Mole,  who  had 
risen  late  and  taken  things  very  easy  all  day, 
was  sitting  on  the  bank  fishing,  when  the  Rat, 
who  had  been  looking  up  his  friends  and  gossip- 
ing, came  strolling  along  to  find  him.  'Heard 
the  news?"  he  said.  'There's  nothing  else 
being  talked  about,  all  along  the  river  bank. 
Toad  went  up  to  Town  by  an  early  train  this 
morning.  And  he  has  ordered  a  large  and  very 
expensive  motor-car." 


Ill 

THE   WILD   WOOD 


Ill 

THE  WILD   WOOD 

THE  Mole  had  long  wanted  to  make  the 
acquaintance  of  the  Badger.  He  seemed, 
by  all  accounts,  to  be  such  an  important  per- 
sonage and,  though  rarely  visible,  to  make  his 
unseen  influence  felt  by  everybody  about  the 
place.  But  whenever  the  Mole  mentioned  his 
wish  to  the  Water  Rat,  he  always  found  him- 
self put  off.  "It's  all  right,"  the  Rat  would 
say.  "Badger  '11  turn  up  some  day  or  other  - 
he  's  always  turning  up  —  and  then  I  '11  intro- 
duce you.  The  best  of  fellows!  But  you  must 
not  only  take  him  as  you  find  him,  but  when  you 
find  him." 

"Couldn't  you  ask  him  here  —  dinner  or 
something?"  said  the  Mole. 

"He  wouldn't  come,"  replied  the  Rat  simply. 
"Badger  hates  Society,  and  invitations,  and 
dinner,  and  all  that  sort  of  thing." 

55 


THE   WIND    IN    THE    WILLOWS 

"Well,  then,  supposing  we  go  and  call  on 
him?*'  suggested  the  Mole. 

"O,  I  'm  sure  he  wouldn't  like  that  at  all," 
said  the  Rat,  quite  alarmed.  "He's  so  very 
shy,  he  'd  be  sure  to  be  offended.  I  've  never 
even  ventured  to  call  on  him  at  his  own  home 
myself,  though  I  know  him  so  well.  Besides, 
we  can't.  It 's  quite  out  of  the  question,  be- 
cause he  lives  in  the  very  middle  of  the  Wild 
Wood." 

"Well,  supposing  he  does,"  said  the  Mole. 
"You  told  me  the  Wild  Wood  was  all  right,  you 
know." 

"O,  I  know,  I  know,  so  it  is,"  replied  the  Rat 
evasively.  "But  I  think  we  won't  go  there 
just  now.  Not  just  yet.  It 's  a  long  way,  and 
he  wouldn't  be  at  home  at  this  time  of  year 
anyhow,  and  he  '11  be  coming  along  some  day, 
if  you  '11  wait  quietly." 

The  Mole  had  to  be  content  with  this.  But 
the  Badger  never  came  along,  and  every  day 
brought  its  amusements,  and  it  was  not  till 
summer  was  long  over,  and  cold  and  frost  and 
miry  ways  kept  them  much  indoors,  and  the 

56 


THE   WILD   WOOD 

swollen  river  raced  past  outside  their  windows 
with  a  speed  that  mocked  at  boating  of  any 
sort  or  kind,  that  he  found  his  thoughts  dwell- 
ing again  with  much  persistence  on  the  solitary 
grey  Badger,  who  lived  his  own  life  by  himself, 
in  his  hole  in  the  middle  of  the  Wild  Wood. 

In  the  winter  time  the  Rat  slept  a  great  deal, 
retiring  early  and  rising  late.  During  his  short 
day  he  sometimes  scribbled  poetry  or  did  other 
small  domestic  jobs  about  the  house;  and,  of 
course,  there  were  always  animals  dropping  in 
for  a  chat,  and  consequently  there  was  a  good 
deal  of  story-telling  and  comparing  notes  on 
the  past  summer  and  all  its  doings. 

Such  a  rich  chapter  it  had  been,  when  one 
came  to  look  back  on  it  all!  With  illustrations 
so  numerous  and  so  very  highly  coloured !  The 
pageant  of  the  river  bank  had  marched  steadily 
along,  unfolding  itself  in  scene-pictures  that  suc- 
ceeded each  other  in  stately  procession.  Purple 
loosestrife  arrived  early,  shaking  luxuriant  tan- 
gled locks  along  the  edge  of  the  mirror  whence 
its  own  face  laughed  back  at  it.  Willow-herb, 
tender  and  wistful,  like  a  pink  sunset  cloud,  was 

57 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

not  slow  to  follow.  Comfrey,  the  purple  liand- 
in-hand  with  the  white,  crept  forth  to  take  its 
place  in  the  line;  and  at  last  one  morning  the 
diffident  and  delaying  dog-rose  stepped  delicately 
on  the  stage,  and  one  knew,  as  if  string-music 
had  announced  it  in  stately  chords  that  strayed 
into  a  gavotte,  that  June  at  last  was  here.  One 
member  of  the  company  was  still  awaited;  the 
shepherd-boy  for  the  nymphs  to  woo,  the  knight 
for  whom  the  ladies  waited  at  the  window, 
the  prince  that  was  to  kiss  the  sleeping  summer 
back  to  life  and  love.  But  wrhen  meadow-sweet, 
debonair  and  odorous  in  amber  jerkin,  moved 
graciously  to  his  place  in  the  group,  then  the 
play  was  ready  to  begin. 

And  what  a  play  it  had  been!  Drowsy  ani- 
mals, snug  in  their  holes  while  wind  and  rain 
were  battering  at  their  doors,  recalled  still  keen 
mornings,  an  hour  before  sunrise,  when  the  white 
mist,  as  yet  undispersed,  clung  closely  along  the 
surface  of  the  water;  then  the  shock  of  the 
early  plunge,  the  scamper  along  the  bank,  and 
the  radiant  transformation  of  earth,  air,  and 
water,  when  suddenly  the  sun  wras  with  them 

58 


THE   WILD   WOOD 

again,  and  grey  was  gold  and  colour  was  born 
and  sprang  out  of  the  earth  once  more.  They 
recalled  the  languorous  siesta  of  hot  mid-day, 
deep  in  green  undergrowth,  the  sun  striking 
through  in  tiny  golden  shafts  and  spots;  the 
boating  and  bathing  of  the  afternoon,  the  ram- 
bles along  dusty  lanes  and  through  yellow  corn- 
fields; and  the  long,  cool  evening  at  last,  when 
so  many  threads  were  gathered  up,  so  many 
friendships  rounded,  and  so  many  adventures 
planned  for  the  morrow.  There  was  plenty  to 
talk  about  on  those  short  winter  days  when  the 
animals  found  themselves  round  the  fire;  still, 
the  Mole  had  a  good  deal  of  spare  time  on  his 
hands,  and  so  one  afternoon,  when  the  Rat  in 
his  arm-chair  before  the  blaze  was  alternately 
dozing  and  trying  over  rhymes  that  wouldn't 
fit,  he  formed  the  resolution  to  go  out  by  him- 
self and  explore  the  Wild  Wood,  and  perhaps 
strike  up  an  acquaintance  with  Mr.  Badger. 

It  was  a  cold,  still  afternoon  with  a  hard, 
steely  sky  overhead,  when  he  slipped  out  of 
the  warm  parlour  into  the  open  air.  The  coun- 
try lay  bare  and  entirely  leafless  around  him, 

59 


THE    WIND    IN   THE    WILLOWS 

and  he  thought  that  he  had  never  seen  so  far 
and  so  intimately  into  the  insides  of  things  as 
on  that  winter  day  when  Nature  was  deep  in 
her  annual  slumber  and  seemed  to  have  kicked 
the  clothes  off.  Copses,  dells,  quarries,  and  all 
hidden  places,  which  had  been  mysterious  mines 
for  exploration  in  leafy  summer,  now  exposed 
themselves  and  their  secrets  pathetically,  and 
seemed  to  ask  him  to  overlook  their  shabby 
poverty  for  a  while,  till  they  could  riot  in  rich 
masquerade  as  before,  and  trick  and  entice  him 
with  the  old  deceptions.  It  was  pitiful  in  a 
way,  and  yet  cheering  -  -  even  exhilarating.  He 
was  glad  that  he  liked  the  country  undecorated, 
hard,  and  stripped  of  its  finery.  He  had  got 
down  to  the  bare  bones  of  it,  and  they  were 
fine  and  strong  and  simple.  He  did  not  \vant 
the  warm  clover  and  the  play  of  seeding  grasses; 
the  screens  of  quickset,  the  billowy  drapery  of 
beech  and  elm  seemed  best  away;  and  with 
great  cheerfulness  of  spirit  he  pushed  on  to- 
wards the  Wild  Wood,  which  lay  before  him  low 
and  threatening,  like  a  black  reef  in  some  still 

southern  sea. 

60 


THE   WILD   WOOD 

There  was  nothing  to  alarm  him  at  first 
entry.  Twigs  crackled  under  his  feet,  logs 
tripped  him,  funguses  on  stumps  resembled  car- 
icatures, and  startled  him  for  the  moment  by 
their  likeness  to  something  familiar  and  far 
away;  but  that  was  all  fun,  and  exciting.  It 
led  him  on,  and  he  penetrated  to  where  the  light 
was  less,  and  trees  crouched  nearer  and  nearer, 
and  holes  made  ugly  mouths  at  him  on  either 
side. 

Everything  was  very  still  now.  The  dusk 
advanced  on  him  steadily,  rapidly,  gathering  in 
behind  and  before;  and  the  light  seemed  to  be 
draining  away  like  flood-water. 

Then  the  faces  began. 

It  was  over  his  shoulder,  and  indistinctly, 
that  he  first  thought  he  saw  a  face,  a  little,  evil, 
wedge-shaped  face,  looking  out  at  him  from  a 
hole.  When  he  turned  and  confronted  it,  the 
thing  had  vanished. 

He  quickened  his  pace,  telling  himself  cheer- 
fully not  to  begin  imagining  things  or  there 
would  be  simply  no  end  to  it.  He  passed 
another  hole,  and  another,  and  another;  and 

61 


THE    WIND    IN   THE    WILLOWS 

then  -  -  yes!  -  -  no!  -  -  yes!  certainly  a  little,  nar- 
row face,  with  hard  eyes,  had  flashed  up  for  an 
instant  from  a  hole,  and  was  gone.  He  hesitated 

-  braced  himself  up  for  an  effort  and  strode 
on.  Then  suddenly,  and  as  if  it  had  been  so  all 
the  time,  every  hole,  far  and  near,  and  there 
were  hundreds  of  them,  seemed  to  possess  its 
face,  coming  and  going  rapidly,  all  fixing  on 
him  glances  of  malice'  and  hatred:  all  hard- 
eyed  and  evil  and  sharp. 

If  he  could  only  get  away  from  the  holes  in 
the  banks,  he  thought,  there  would  be  no  more 
faces.  He  swung  off  the  path  and  plunged  into 
the  untrodden  rjlaces  of  the  wood. 

Then  the  \vhistling  began. 

Very  faint  and  shrill  it  wras,  and  far  behind 
him,  when  first  he  heard  it;  but  somehow  it 
made  him  hurry  forward.  Then,  still  very  faint 
and  shrill,  it  sounded  far  ahead  of  him,  and  made 
him  hesitate  and  want  to  go  back.  As  he  halted 
in  indecision  it  broke  out  on  either  side,  and 
seemed  to  be  caught  up  and  passed  on  through- 
out the  whole  length  of  the  wood  to  its  farthest 
limit.  They  were  up  and  alert  and  ready,  evi- 

62 


THE   WILD   WOOD 

dently ,  whoever  they  were !  And  he  -  -  he  was 
alone,  and  unarmed,  and  far  from  any  help; 
and  the  night  was  closing  in. 

Then  the  pattering  began. 

He  thought  it  was  only  falling  leaves  at  first, 
so  slight  and  delicate  was  the  sound  of  it.  Then 
as  it  grew  it  took  a  regular  rhythm,  and  he 
knew  it  for  nothing  else  but  the  pat-pat-pat  of 
little  feet  still  a  very  long  way  off.  Was  it  in 
front  or  behind?  It  seemed  to  be  first  one,  and 
then  the  other,  then  both.  It  grew  and  it  mul- 
tiplied, till  from  every  quarter  as  he  listened 
anxiously,  leaning  this  way  and  that,  it  seemed 
to  be  closing  in  on  him.  As  he  stood  still  to 
hearken,  a  rabbit  came  running  hard  towards 
him  through  the  trees.  He  waited,  expecting  it 
to  slacken  pace  or  to  swerve  from  him  into  a 
different  course.  Instead,  the  animal  almost 
brushed  him  as  it  dashed  past,  his  face  set  and 
hard,  his  eyes  staring.  "Get  out  of  this,  you 
fool,  get  out!"  the  Mole  heard  him  mutter  as 
he  swung  round  a  stump  and  disappeared  down 
a  friendly  burrow. 

The  pattering  increased  till  it  sounded  like 

63 


THE   WIND    IN    THE    WILLOWS 

sudden  hail  on  the  dry  leaf -carpet  spread  around 
him.  The  whole  wood  seemed  running  now, 
running  hard,  hunting,  chasing,  closing  in  round 
something  or  —  somebody?  In  panic,  he  began 
to  run  too,  aimlessly,  he  knew  not  whither.  He 
ran  up  against  things,  he  fell  over  things  and 
into  things,  he  darted  under  things  and  dodged 
round  things.  At  last  he  took  refuge  in  the  deep, 
dark  hollow  of  an  old  beech  tree,  which  offered 
shelter,  concealment  -  -  perhaps  even  safety,  but 
who  could  tell?  Anyhow,  he  was  too  tired  to 
run  any  further,  and  could  only  snuggle  down 
into  the  dry  leaves  which  had  drifted  into  the 
hollow  and  hope  he  was  safe  for  a  time.  And  as 
he  lay  there  panting  and  trembling,  and  listened 
to  the  whistlings  and  the  patterings  outside,  he 
knew  it  at  last,  in  all  its  fulness,  that  dread 
thing  which  other  little  dwellers  in  field  and 
hedgerow  had  encountered  here,  and  known  as 
their  darkest  moment  -  -  that  thing  wrhich  the 
Rat  had  vainly  tried  to  shield  him  from  —  the 
Terror  of  the  Wild  Wood! 

Meantime  the  Rat,  warm  and  comfortable, 
dozed  by  his  fireside.    His  paper  of  half-finished 

64 


A^t    ©RAPH  -socv^ — ^ 


-  -  . 


In  jtonic,  IK-  l»-ij,,n  to  run 


THE   WILD   WOOD 

verses  slipped  from  his  knee,  his  head  fell  back, 
his  mouth  opened,  and  he  wandered  by  the 
verdant  banks  of  dream-rivers.  Then  a  coal 
slipped,  the  fire  crackled  and  sent  up  a  spurt  of 
flame,  and  he  woke  with  a  start.  Remember- 
ing what  he  had  been  engaged  upon,  he  reached 
down  to  the  floor  for  his  verses,  pored  over 
them  for  a  minute,  and  then  looked  round  for 
the  Mole  to  ask  him  if  he  knew  a  good  rhyme 
for  something  or  other. 

But  the  Mole  was  not  there. 

He  listened  for  a  time.  The  house  seemed 
very  quiet. 

Then  he  called  "Moly!"  several  times,  and, 
receiving  no  answer,  got  up  and  went  out  into 
the  hall. 

The  Mole's  cap  was  missing  from  its  accus- 
tomed peg.  His  goloshes,  which  always  lay  by 
the  umbrella-stand,  were  also  gone. 

The  Rat  left  the  house,  and  carefully  exam- 
ined the  muddy  surface  of  the  ground  outside, 
hoping  to  find  the  Mole's  tracks.  There  they 
were,  sure  enough.  The  goloshes  were  new, 
just  bought  for  the  winter,  and  the  pimples  on 

65 


THE   WIND    IN   TIIK   WILLOWS 

their  soles  were  fresh  and  sharp.  He  could 
see  the  imprints  of  them  in  the  mud,  running 
along  straight  and  purposeful,  leading  direct  to 
the  Wild  Wood. 

The  Rat  looked  very  grave,  and  stood  in 
deep  thought  for  a  minute  or  two.  Then  he 
re-entered  the  house,  strapped  a  belt  round  his 
waist,  shoved  a  brace  of  pistols  into  it,  took  up 
a  stout  cudgel  that  stood  in  a  corner  of  the 
hall,  and  set  off  for  the  Wild  Wood  at  a  smart 
pace. 

It  was  already  getting  towards  dusk  when  he 
reached  the  first  fringe  of  trees  and  plunged 
without  hesitation  into  the  wood,  looking  anx- 
iously on  either  side  for  any  sign  of  his  friend. 
Here  and  there  wicked  little  faces  popped  out 
of  holes,  but  vanished  immediately  at  sight  of 
the  valorous  animal,  his  pistols,  and  the  great 
ugly  cudgel  in  his  grasp;  and  the  whistling  and 
pattering,  which  he  had  heard  quite  plainly  on 
his  first  entry,  died  away  and  ceased,  and  all 
was  very  still.  He  made  his  way  manfully 
through  the  length  of  the  wood,  to  its  furthest 
edge;  then,  forsaking  all  paths,  he  set  himself 

66 


THE   WILD   WOOD 

to  traverse  it,  laboriously  working  over  the 
whole  ground,  and  all  the  time  calling  out  cheer- 
fully, "Moly,  Moly,  Moly!  Where  are  you? 
It's  me— it 's  old  Rat!" 

He  had  patiently  hunted  through  the  wood 
for  an  hour  or  more,  when  at  last  to  his  joy  he 
heard  a  little  answering  cry.  Guiding  himself 
by  the  sound,  he  made  his  way  through  the 
gathering  darkness  to  the  foot  of  an  old  beech 
tree,  with  a  hole  in  it,  and  from  out  of  the  hole 
came  a  feeble  voice,  saying  'Ratty!  Is  that 
really  you?" 

The  Rat  crept  into  the  hollow,  and  there  he 
found  the  Mole,  exhausted  and  still  trembling. 
"O  Rat!"  he  cried,  "I've  been  so  frightened, 
you  can't  think!" 

"O,  I  quite  understand,"  said  the  Rat  sooth- 
ingly. 'You  shouldn't  really  have  gone  and 
done  it,  Mole.  I  did  my  best  to  keep  you  from 
it.  We  river-bankers,  we  hardly  ever  come  here 
by  ourselves.  If  we  have  to  come,  we  come 
in  couples  at  least;  then  we  're  generally  all 
right.  Besides,  there  are  a  hundred  things  one 
has  to  know,  which  we  understand  all  about 

67 


THE   WIND   IN   THE   WILLOWS 

and  you  don't,  as  yet.  I  mean  passwords,  and 
signs,  and  sayings  which  have  power  and  effect, 
and  plants  you  carry  in  your  pocket,  and  verses 
you  repeat,  and  dodges  and  tricks  you  practise; 
all  simple  enough  when  you  know  them,  but 
they  've  got  to  be  known  if  you  're  small,  or 
you  '11  find  yourself  in  trouble.  Of  course  if 
you  were  Badger  or  Otter,  it  would  be  quite 
another  matter." 

''Surely  the  brave  Mr.  Toad  wouldn't  mind 
coming  here  by  himself,  would  he?"  inquired 
the  Mole. 

"Old  Toad?"  said  the  Rat,  laughing  heartily. 
"He  wouldn't  show  his  face  here  alone,  not 
for  a  whole  hatful  of  golden  guineas,  Toad 
wouldn't." 

The  Mole  was  greatly  cheered  by  the  sound 
of  the  Rat's  careless  laughter,  as  well  as  by  the 
sight  of  his  stick  and  his  gleaming  pistols,  and 
he  stopped  shivering  and  began  to  feel  bolder 
and  more  himself  again. 

"Now  then,"  said  the  Rat  presently,  :<we 
really  must  pull  ourselves  together  and  make  a 
start  for  home  while  there  's  still  a  little  light 

68 


THE   WILD   WOOD 

left.  It  will  never  do  to  spend  the  night  here, 
you  understand.  Too  cold,  for  one  thing." 

"Dear  Ratty,"  said  the  poor  Mole,  "I'm 
dreadfully  sorry,  but  I  'm  simply  dead  beat  and 
that 's  a  solid  fact.  You  must  let  me  rest  here 
a  while  longer,  and  get  my  strength  back,  if 
I  'm  to  get  home  at  all." 

"O,  all  right,"  said  the  good-natured  Rat, 
"rest  away.  It 's  pretty  nearly  pitch  dark  now, 
anyhow;  and  there  ought  to  be  a  bit  of  a  moon 
later." 

So  the  Mole  got  well  into  the  dry  leaves  and 
stretched  himself  out,  and  presently  dropped  off 
into  sleep,  though  of  a  broken  and  troubled 
sort;  while  the  Rat  covered  himself  up,  too,  as 
best  he  might,  for  warmth,  and  lay  patiently 
waiting,  with  a  pistol  in  his  paw. 

When  at  last  the  Mole  woke  up,  much  re- 
freshed and  in  his  usual  spirits,  the  Rat  said, 
"Now  then!  I  '11  just  take  a  look  outside  and 
see  if  everything 's  quiet,  and  then  we  really 
must  be  off." 

He  went  to  the  entrance  of  their  retreat  and 
put  his  head  out.  Then  the  Mole  heard  him 

69 


THE   WIND    IN    THE   AVILLOAVS 

saying  quietly  to  himself,  'Hullo!  hullo!  here 
-is — a — go!" 

"AA7hat's  up,  Ratty?"  asked  the  Mole. 

"Snow  is  up,"  replied  the  Rat  briefly;  "or 
rather,  down.  It 's  snowing  hard." 

The  Mole  came  and  crouched  beside  him, 
and,  looking  out,  saw  the  wood  that  had  been 
so  dreadful  to  him  in  quite  a  changed  aspect. 
Holes,  hollows,  pools,  pitfalls,  and  other  black 
menaces  to  the  wayfarer  were  vanishing  fast, 
and  a  gleaming  carpet  of  faery  was  springing 
up  everywhere,  that  looked  too  delicate  to  be 
trodden  upon  by  rough  feet.  A  fine  powder 
filled  the  air  and  caressed  the  cheek  with  a 
tingle  in  its  touch,  and  the  black  boles  of  the 
trees  showed  up  in  a  light  that  seemed  to  come 
from  below. 

'Well,  well,  it  can't  be  helped,"  said  the  Rat, 
after  pondering.  'We  must  make  a  start,  and 
take  our  chance,  I  suppose.  The  worst  of  it  is,  I 
don't  exactly  know  where  we  are.  And  now  this 
snow  makes  everything  look  so  very  different." 

It  did  indeed.  The  Mole  would  not  have 
known  that  it  was  the  same  wood.  However, 

70 


THE    WILD    WOOD 

they  set  out  bravely,  and  took  the  line  that 
seemed  most  promising,  holding  on  to  each 
other  and  pretending  with  invincible  cheerful- 
ness that  they  recognised  an  old  friend  in  every 
fresh  tree  that  grimly  and  silently  greeted  them, 
or  saw  openings,  gaps,  or  paths  with  a  familiar 
turn  in  them,  in  the  monotony  of  white  space 
and  black  tree-trunks  that  refused  to  vary. 

An  hour  or  two  later  —  they  had  lost  all 
count  of  time  -  -  they  pulled  up,  dispirited, 
weary,  and  hopelessly  at  sea,  and  sat  down  on  a 
fallen  tree-trunk  to  recover  their  breath  and 
consider  what  was  to  be  done.  They  were  ach- 
ing with  fatigue  and  bruised  with  tumbles;  they 
had  fallen  into  several  holes  and  got  wet  through ; 
the  snow  was  getting  so  deep  that  they  could 
hardly  drag  their  little  legs  through  it,  and  the 
trees  were  thicker  and  more  like  each  other 
than  ever.  There  seemed  to  be  no  end  to  this 
wood,  and  no  beginning,  and  no  difference  in  it, 
and,  worst  of  all,  no  way  out. 

"We  can't  sit  here  very  long,"  said  the  Rat. 
"  We  shall  have  to  make  another  push  for  it,  and 
do  something  or  other.  The  cold  is  too  awful 

71 


THE    WIND   IN   THE   WILLOWS 

for  anything,  and  the  snow  will  soon  be  too 
deep  for  us  to  wade  through."  He  peered  about 
him  and  considered.  "Look  here,"  he  went  on, 
"this  is  what  occurs  to  me.  There  's  a  sort  of 
dell  down  here  in  front  of  us,  where  the  ground 
seems  all  hilly  and  humpy  and  hummocky. 
We  '11  make  our  way  down  into  that,  and  try 
and  find  some  sort  of  shelter,  a  cave  or  hole  with 
a  dry  floor  to  it,  out  of  the  snow  and  the  wind, 
and  there  we  '11  have  a  good  rest  before  we  try 
again,  for  we  're  both  of  us  pretty  dead  beat. 
Besides,  the  snow  may  leave  off,  or  something 
may  turn  up." 

So  once  more  they  got  on  their  feet,  and 
struggled  down  into  the  dell,  where  they  hunted 
about  for  a  cave  or  some  corner  that  was  dry 
and  a  protection  from  the  keen  wind  and  the 
whirling  snow.  They  were  investigating  one  of 
the  hummocky  bits  the  Rat  had  spoken  of, 
when  suddenly  the  Mole  tripped  up  and  fell 
forward  on  his  face  with  a  squeal. 

"O  my  leg!"  he  cried.  "O  my  poor  shin!" 
and  he  sat  up  on  the  snow  and  nursed  his  leg 
in  both  his  front  paws. 

72 


THE   WILD   WOOD 

"  Poor  old  Mole ! "  said  the  Rat  kindly.  "  You 
don't  seem  to  be  having  much  luck  to-day,  do 
you?  Let 's  have  a  look  at  the  leg.  Yes,"  he 
went  on,  going  down  on  his  knees  to  look, 
"you  've  cut  your  shin,  sure  enough.  Wait  till 
I  get  at  my  handkerchief,  and  I  '11  tie  it  up  for 

you." 

"I  must  have  tripped  over  a  hidden  branch 
or  a  stump,"  said  the  Mole  miserably.  "O,  my! 
O,  my!" 

"It 's  a  very  clean  cut,"  said  the  Rat,  exam- 
ining it  again  attentively.  'That  was  never 
done  by  a  branch  or  a  stump.  Looks  as  if 
it  was  made  by  a  sharp  edge  of  something  in 
metal.  Funny!"  He  pondered  awhile,  and  ex- 
amined the  humps  and  slopes  that  surrounded 
them. 

"Well,  never  mind  what  done  it,"  said  the 
Mole,  forgetting  his  grammar  in  his  pain.  "It 
hurts  just  the  same,  whatever  done  it." 

But  the  Rat,  after  carefully  tying  up  the  leg 
with  his  handkerchief,  had  left  him  and  was 
busy  scraping  in  the  snow.  He  scratched  and 
shovelled  and  explored,  all  four  legs  working 

73 


THE   WIND    IN    THE    WILLOWS 

busily,  while  the  Mole  waited  impatiently,  re- 
marking at  intervals,  "O,  come  on,  Rat!" 

Suddenly  the  Rat  cried  "Hooray!"  and  then 
'  Hooray-oo-ray-oo-ray-oo-ray ! "  and  fell  to  exe- 
cuting a  feeble  jig  in  the  snow. 

'What  have  you  found,  Ratty?"  asked  the 
Mole,  still  nursing  his  leg. 

"Come  and  see!"  said  the  delighted  Rat,  as 
he  jigged  on. 

The  Mole  hobbled  up  to  the  spot  and  had  a 
good  look. 

"Well,"  he  said  at  last,  slowly,  "I  see  it  right 
enough.  Seen  the  same  sort  of  thing  before, 
lots  of  times.  Familiar  object,  I  call  it.  A 
door-scraper!  Well,  what  of  it?  Why  dance 
jigs  around  a  door-scraper?" 

"But  don't  you  see  what  it  means,  you  —  you 
dull-witted  animal?"  cried  the  Rat  impatiently. 

"Of  course  I  see  what  it  means,"  replied  the 
Mole.  'It  simply  means  that  some  very  care- 
less and  forgetful  person  has  left  his  door- 
scraper  lying  about  in  the  middle  of  the  Wild 
Wood,  just  where  it 's  sure  to  trip  everybody  up. 
Very  thoughtless  of  him,  I  call  it.  When  I  get 

74 


THE   WILD   WOOD 

home  I  shall  go  and  complain  about  it  to  —  to 
somebody  or  other,  see  if  I  don't!" 

"O,  dear!  O,  dear!"  cried  the  Rat,  in  despair 
at  his  obtuseness.  '  Here,  stop  arguing  and  come 
and  scrape!"  And  he  set  to  work  again  and 
made  the  snow  fly  in  all  directions  around  him. 

After  some  further  toil  his  efforts  were  re- 
warded, and  a  very  shabby  door-mat  lay  exposed 
to  view. 

"There,  what  did  I  tell  you?"  exclaimed  the 
Rat  in  great  triumph. 

"Absolutely  nothing  whatever,"  replied  the 
Mole,  with  perfect  truthfulness.  'Well,  now," 
he  went  on,  "you  seem  to  have  found  another 
piece  of  domestic  litter,  done  for  and  thrown 
away,  and  I  suppose  you  're  perfectly  happy. 
Better  go  ahead  and  dance  your  jig  round  that 
if  you  've  got  to,  and  get  it  over,  and  then  per- 
haps we  can  go  on  and  not  waste  any  more 
time  over  rubbish-heaps.  Can  we  eat  a  door- 
mat? Or  sleep  under  a  door-mat?  Or  sit  on  a 
door-mat  and  sledge  home  over  the  snow  on  it, 
you  exasperating  rodent ?': 

"Do  -  -  you  -  -  mean  -  -  to  —  say,"  cried  the 

75 


THE   WIND    IN   THE    WILLOWS 

excited  Rat,    'that  this  door-mat   doesn't   tell 
you  anything?" 

'Really,  Rat,"  said  the  Mole,  quite  pettishly, 
'I  think  we  've  had  enough  of  this  folly.  Who 
ever  heard  of  a  door-mat  telling  any  one  any- 
thing? They  simply  don't  do  it.  They  are  not 
that  sort  at  all.  Door-mats  know  their  place." 
'Now  look  here,  you  —  you  thick-headed 
beast,"  replied  the  Rat,  really  angry,  "this  must 
stop.  Not  another  word,  but  scrape  —  scrape 
and  scratch  and  dig  and  hunt  round,  especially 
on  the  sides  of  the  hummocks,  if  you  want  to 
sleep  dry  and  warm  to-night,  for  it 's  our  last 
chance!" 

The  Rat  attacked  a  snow-bank  beside  them 
with  ardour,  probing  with  his  cudgel  every- 
where and  then  digging  with  fury;  and  the 
Mole  scraped  busily  too,  more  to  oblige  the 
Rat  than  for  any  other  reason,  for  his  opinion 
was  that  his  friend  was  getting  light-headed. 

Some  ten  minutes'  hard  work,  and  the  point 
of  the  Rat's  cudgel  struck  something  that 
sounded  hollow.  He  worked  till  he  could  get 
a  paw  through  and  feel;  then  called  the  Mole 

76 


THE   WILD   WOOD 

to  come  and  help  him.  Hard  at  it  went  the 
two  animals,  till  at  last  the  result  of  their 
labours  stood  full  in  view  of  the  astonished  and 
hitherto  incredulous  Mole. 

In  the  side  of  what  had  seemed  to  be  a  snow- 
bank stood  a  solid-looking  little  door,  painted 
a  dark  green.  An  iron  bell-pull  hung  by  the 
side,  and  below  it,  on  a  small  brass  plate,  neatly 
engraved  in  square  capital  letters,  they  could 
read  by  the  aid  of  moonlight 

MR.    BADGER. 

The  Mole  fell  backwards  on  the  snow  from 
sheer  surprise  and  delight.  "Rat!"  he  cried  in 
penitence,  "y°u  're  a  wonder!  A  real  wonder, 
that 's  what  you  are.  I  see  it  all  now !  You 
argued  it  out,  step  by  step,  in  that  wise  head  of 
yours,  from  the  very  moment  that  I  fell  and 
cut  my  shin,  and  you  looked  at  the  cut,  and  at 
once  your  majestic  mind  said  to  itself,  'Door- 
scraper!'  And  then  you  turned  to  and  found 
the  very  door-scraper  that  done  it!  Did  you 
stop  there?  No.  Some  people  would  have  been 
quite  satisfied;  but  not  you.  Your  intellect 

77 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

went  on  working.  'Let  me  only  just  find  a 
door-mat/  says  you  to  yourself,  'and  my 
theory  is  proved!'  And  of  course  you  found 
your  door-mat.  You  're  so  clever,  I  believe  you 
could  find  anything  you  liked.  'Now,'  says 
you,  'that  door  exists,  as  plain  as  if  I  saw  it. 
There  's  nothing  else  remains  to  be  done  but  to 
find  it!'  Well,  I've  read  about  that  sort  of 
thing  in  books,  but  I  've  never  come  across  it 
before  in  real  life.  You  ought  to  go  where 
you  '11  be  properly  appreciated.  You  're  simply 
wasted  here,  among  us  fellows.  If  I  only  had 
your  head,  Ratty- 

'But  as  you  haven't,"  interrupted  the  Rat, 
rather  unkindly,  "I  suppose  you're  going  to 
sit  on  the  snow  all  night  and  talk  ?  Get  up 
at  once  and  hang  on  to  that  bell-pull  you  see 
there,  and  ring  hard,  as  hard  as  you  can,  while 
I  hammer!" 

While  the  Rat  attacked  the  door  with  his 
stick,  the  Mole  sprang  up  at  the  bell-pull, 
clutched  it  and  swung  there,  both  feet  well  off 
the  ground,  and  from  quite  a  long  way  off  they 
could  faintly  hear  a  deep-toned  bell  respond. 

78 


IV 
MR.    BADGER 


IV 
MR.    BADGER 

THEY  waited  patiently  for  what  seemed  a 
very  long  time,  stamping  in  the  snow  to 
keep  their  feet  warm.  At  last  they  heard  the 
sound  of  slow  shuffling  footsteps  approaching 
the  door  from  the  inside.  It  seemed,  as  the 
Mole  remarked  to  the  Rat,  like  some  one  walk- 
ing in  carpet  slippers  that  were  too  large  for 
him  and  down  at  heel;  which  was  intelligent 
of  Mole,  because  that  was  exactly  what  it  was. 

There  was  the  noise  of  a  bolt  shot  back,  and 
the  door  opened  a  few  inches,  enough  to  show 
a  long  snout  and  a  pair  of  sleepy  blinking  eyes. 

"Now,  the  very  next  time  this  happens,"  said 
a  gruff  and  suspicious  voice,  "I  shall  be  exceed- 
ingly angry.  Who  is  it  this  time,  disturbing 
people  on  such  a  night?  Speak  up!" 

"Oh,  Badger,"  cried  the  Rat,  "let  us  in, 

81 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

please.    It 's  me,  Rat,  and  my  friend  Mole,  and 
we  've  lost  our  way  in  the  snow." 

'What,  Ratty,  my  dear  little  man!"  ex- 
claimed the  Badger,  in  quite  a  different  voice. 
"Come  along  in,  both  of  you,  at  once.  Why, 
you  must  be  perished.  Well,  I  never!  Lost  in 
the  snow!  And  in  the  Wild  Wood,  too,  and  at 
this  time  of  night!  But  come  in  with  you." 

The  two  animals  tumbled  over  each  other  in 
their  eagerness  to  get  inside,  and  heard  the  door 
shut  behind  them  with  great  joy  and  relief. 

The  Badger,  who  wore  a  long  dressing-gown, 
and  whose  slippers  were  indeed  very  down  at 
heel,  carried  a  flat  candlestick  in  his  paw  and 
had  probably  been  on  his  way  to  bed  when 
their  summons  sounded.  He  looked  kindly 
down  on  them  and  patted  both  their  heads. 
"This  is  not  the  sort  of  night  for  small  animals 
to  be  out,"  he  said  paternally.  "I  'm  afraid 
you  Ve  been  up  to  some  of  your  pranks  again, 
Ratty.  But  come  along;  come  into  the  kitchen. 
There  's  a  first-rate  fire  there,  and  supper  and 
everything." 

He    shuffled    on   in   front  of  them,   carrying 

82 


MR.    BADGER 

the  light,  and  they  followed  him,  nudging  each 
other  in  an  anticipating  sort  of  way,  down  a 
long,  gloomy,  and,  to  tell  the  truth,  decidedly 
shabby  passage,  into  a  sort  of  a  central  hall, 
out  of  which  they  could  dimly  see  other  long 
tunnel-like  passages  branching,  passages  mys- 
terious and  without  apparent  end.  But  there 
were  doors  in  the  hall  as  well  —  stout  oaken, 
comfortable-looking  doors.  One  of  these  the 
Badger  flung  open,  and  at  once  they  found 
themselves  in  all  the  glow  and  warmth  of  a 
large  fire-lit  kitchen. 

The  floor  was  well-worn  red  brick,  and  on 
the  wide  hearth  burnt  a  fire  of  logs,  between 
two  attractive  chimney-corners  tucked  away  in 
the  wall,  well  out  of  any  suspicion  of  draught. 
A  couple  of  high-backed  settles,  facing  each 
other  on  either  side  of  the  fire,  gave  further 
sitting  accommodations  for  the  sociably  dis- 
posed. In  the  middle  of  the  room  stood  a  long 
table  of  plain  boards  placed  on  trestles,  with 
benches  down  each  side.  At  one  end  of  it,  where 
an  arm-chair  stood  pushed  back,  \vere  spread 
the  remains  of  the  Badger's  plain  but  ample 

83 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

supper.  Rows  of  spotless  plates  winked  from 
the  shelves  of  the  dresser  at  the  far  end  of  the 
room,  and  from  the  rafters  overhead  hung 
hams,  bundles  of  dried  herbs,  nets  of  onions, 
and  baskets  of  eggs.  It  seemed  a  place  where 
heroes  could  fitly  feast  after  victory,  where 
weary  harvesters  could  line  up  in  scores  along 
the  table  and  keep  their  Harvest  Home  with 
mirth  and  song,  or  where  two  or  three  friends 
of  simple  tastes  could  sit  about  as  they  pleased 
and  eat  and  smoke  and  talk  in  comfort  and 
contentment.  The  ruddy  brick  floor  smiled  up 
at  the  smoky  ceiling;  the  oaken  settles,  shiny 
with  long  wear,  exchanged  cheerful  glances  with 
each  other;  plates  on  the  dresser  grinned  at 
pots  on  the  shelf,  and  the  merry  firelight  flick- 
ered and  played  over  everything  without  dis- 
tinction. 

The  kindly  Badger  thrust  them  dowrn  on  a 
settle  to  toast  themselves  at  the  fire,  and  bade 
them  remove  their  wet  coats  and  boots.  Then 
he  fetched  them  dressing-gowns  and  slippers, 
and  himself  bathed  the  Mole's  shin  with  warm 
water  and  mended  the  cut  with  sticking-plaster, 

84 


MR.    BADGER 

till  the  whole  thing  was  just  as  good  as  new,  if 
not  better.  In  the  embracing  light  and  warmth, 
warm  and  dry  at  last,  with  weary  legs  propped 
up  in  front  of  them,  and  a  suggestive  clink  of 
plates  being  arranged  on  the  table  behind,  it 
seemed  to  the  storm-driven  animals,  now  in 
safe  anchorage,  that  the  cold  and  trackless  Wild 
Wood  just  left  outside  was  miles  and  miles 
away,  and  all  that  they  had  suffered  in  it  a 
half-forgotten  dream. 

When  at  last  they  were  thoroughly  toasted, 
the  Badger  summoned  them  to  the  table,  where 
he  had  been  busy  laying  a  repast.  They  had 
felt  pretty  hungry  before,  but  when  they  actu- 
ally saw  at  last  the  supper  that  was  spread  for 
them,  really  it  seemed  only  a  question  of  what 
they  should  attack  first  where  all  was  so  attrac- 
tive, and  whether  the  other  things  would  oblig- 
ingly wait  for  them  till  they  had  time  to  give 
them  attention.  Conversation  was  impossible 
for  a  long  time;  and  when  it  was  slowly  resumed, 
it  was  that  regrettable  sort  of  conversation  that 
results  from  talking  with  your  mouth  full.  The 
Badger  did  not  mind  that  sort  of  thing  at  all, 

85 


THE    WIND    IN    THE    WILLOWS 

nor  did  he  take  any  notice  of  elbows  on  the  table, 
or  everybody  speaking  at  once.  As  he  did  not 
go  into  Society  himself,  he  had  got  an  idea  that 
these  things  belonged  to  the  things  that  didn't 
really  matter.  (We  know  of  course  that  he  was 
wrong,  and  took  too  narrow  a  view;  because  they 
do  matter  very  much,  though  it  would  take  too 
long  to  explain  why.)  He  sat  in  his  arm-chair 
at  the  head  of  the  table,  and  nodded  gravely  at 
intervals  as  the  animals  told  their  story;  and  he 
did  not  seem  surprised  or  shocked  at  anything, 
and  he  never  said,  'I  told  you  so,"  or,  "Just 
what  I  always  said,"  or  remarked  that  they 
ought  to  have  done  so-and-so,  or  ought  not  to 
have  done  something  else.  The  Mole  began  to 
feel  very  friendly  towards  him. 

When  supper  was  really  finished  at  last,  and 
each  animal  felt  that  his  skin  was  now  as  tight 
as  was  decently  safe,  and  that  by  this  time  he 
didn't  care  a  hang  for  anybody  or  anything, 
they  gathered  round  the  glowing  embers  of  the 
great  wood  fire,  and  thought  how  jolly  it  was 
to  be  sitting  up  so  late,  and  so  independent,  and 
so  full;  and  after  they  had  chatted  for  a  time 

86 


MR.    BADGER 

about  things  in  general,  the  Badger  said  heart- 
ily, "Now  then!  tell  us  the  news  from  your 
part  of  the  world.  How  's  old  Toad  going  on?" 

"Oh,  from  bad  to  worse,"  said  the  Rat 
gravely,  while  the  Mole,  cocked  up  on  a  settle 
and  basking  in  the  firelight,  his  heels  higher  than 
his  head,  tried  to  look  properly  mournful.  "An- 
other smash-up  only  last  week,  and  a  bad  one. 
You  see,  he  will  insist  on  driving  himself,  and 
he  's  hopelessly  incapable.  If  he  'd  only  employ 
a  decent,  steady,  well-trained  animal,  pay  him 
good  wages,  and  leave  everything  to  him,  he  'd 
get  on  all  right.  But  no;  he  's  convinced  he  's  a 
heaven-born  driver,  and  nobody  can  teach  him 
anything;  and  all  the  rest  follows." 

"How  many  has  he  had?"  inquired  the 
Badger  gloomily. 

"Smashes,  or  machines?"  asked  the  Rat. 
"Oh,  well,  after  all,  it 's  the  same  thing  —  with 
Toad.  This  is  the  seventh.  As  for  the  others 
—  you  know  that  coach-house  of  his?  Well, 
it 's  piled  up  —  literally  piled  up  to  the  roof  — 
with  fragments  of  motor-cars,  none  of  them 
bigger  than  your  hat!  That  accounts  for  the 

87 


THE    WIND   IN   THE   WILLOWS 

other  six  -  -  so  far  as  they  can  be  accounted 
for." 

"He's  been  in  hospital  three  times,"  put  in 
the  Mole;  "and  as  for  the  fines  he's  had  to 
pay,  it 's  simply  awful  to  think  of." 

"Yes,  and  that  's  part  of  the  trouble,"  con- 
tinued the  Rat.  "Toad  's  rich,  we  all  know; 
but  he  's  not  a  millionaire.  And  he  's  a  hope- 
lessly bad  driver,  and  quite  regardless  of  law  and 
order.  Killed  or  ruined  -  -  it 's  got  to  be  one  of 
the  two  things,  sooner  or  later.  Badger!  we  're 
his  friends  —  oughtn't  we  to  do  something?'5 

The  Badger  went  through  a  bit  of  hard 
thinking.  "Now  look  here!"  he  said  at  last, 
rather  severely;  "of  course  you  know  I  can't 
do  anything  now?' 

His  two  friends  assented,  quite  understanding 
his  point.  No  animal,  according  to  the  rules  of 
animal  etiquette,  is  ever  expected  to  do  any- 
thing strenuous,  or  heroic,  or  even  moderately 
active  during  the  off-season  of  winter.  All  are 
sleepy  —  some  actually  asleep.  All  are  weather- 
bound, more  or  less;  and  all  are  resting  from 
arduous  days  and  nights,  during  which  every 

88 


MR.    BADGER 

muscle  in  them  has  been  severely  tested,  and 
every  energy  kept  at  full  stretch. 

'Very  well  then!"  continued  the  Badger. 
"But,  when  once  the  year  has  really  turned, 
and  the  nights  are  shorter,  and  half-way  through 
them  one  rouses  and  feels  fidgety  and  wanting 
to  be  up  and  doing  by  sunrise,  if  not  before  — 
you  know!  — ': 

Both  animals  nodded  gravely.      They  knew! 

'Well,  then,"  went  on  the  Badger,  :'we  — 
that  is,  you  and  me  and  our  friend  the  Mole 
here  —  we  '11  take  Toad  seriously  in  hand.  We  '11 
stand  no  nonsense  whatever.  We  '11  bring  him 
back  to  reason,  by  force  if  need  be.  We  '11  make 
him  be  a  sensible  Toad.  We  '11  —  you  're  asleep, 
Rat!" 

"Not  me!"  said  the  Rat,  waking  up  with  a 
jerk. 

"He  's  been  asleep  two  or  three  times  since 
supper,"  said  the  Mole,  laughing.  He  himself 
was  feeling  quite  wakeful  and  even  lively, 
though  he  didn't  know  why.  The  reason  was, 
of  course,  that  he  being  naturally  an  under- 
ground animal  by  birth  and  breeding,  the  situa- 

89 


THE    WIND    IN   THE    WILLOWS 

tion  of  Badger's  house  exactly  suited  him  and 
made  him  feel  at  home;  while  the  Rat,  who 
slept  every  night  in  a  bedroom  the  windows  of 
which  opened  on  a  breezy  river,  naturally  felt 
the  atmosphere  still  and  oppressive. 

'Well,  it 's  time  we  were  all  in  bed,"  said  the 
Badger,  getting  up  and  fetching  flat  candle- 
sticks. :'Come  along,  you  two,  and  I  '11  show 
you  your  quarters.  And  take  your  time  to- 
morrow morning  -  -  breakfast  at  any  hour  you 
please!" 

He  conducted  the  two  animals  to  a  long  room 
that  seemed  half  bedchamber  and  half  loft. 
The  Badger's  winter  stores,  which  indeed  were 
visible  everywhere,  took  up  half  the  room  — 
piles  of  apples,  turnips,  and  potatoes,  baskets 
full  of  nuts,  and  jars  of  honey;  but  the  two 
little  white  beds  on  the  remainder  of  the  floor 
looked  soft  and  inviting,  and  the  linen  on  them, 
though  coarse,  was  clean  and  smelt  beautifully 
of  lavender;  and  the  Mole  and  the  Water  Rat, 
shaking  off  their  garments  in  some  thirty  sec- 
onds, tumbled  in  between  the  sheets  in  great  joy 

and  contentment. 

90 


MR.    BADGER 

In  accordance  with  the  kindly  Badger's  in- 
junctions, the  two  tired  animals  came  down  to 
breakfast  very  late  next  morning,  and  found  a 
bright  fire  burning  in  the  kitchen,  and  two 
young  hedgehogs  sitting  on  a  bench  at  the 
table,  eating  oatmeal  porridge  out  of  wooden 
bowls.  The  hedgehogs  dropped  their  spoons, 
rose  to  their  feet,  and  ducked  their  heads  re- 
spectfully as  the  two  entered. 

'There,  sit  down,  sit  down,"  said  the  Rat 
pleasantly,  "and  go  on  with  your  porridge. 
Where  have  you  youngsters  come  from?  Lost 
your  way  in  the  snow,  I  suppose?" 

'Yes,  please,  sir,"  said  the  elder  of  the  two 
hedgehogs  respectfully.  "Me  and  little  Billy 
here,  we  was  trying  to  find  our  way  to  school  — 
mother  would  have  us  go,  was  the  weather  ever 
so  —  and  of  course  we  lost  ourselves,  sir,  and 
Billy  he  got  frightened  and  took  and  cried, 
being  young  and  faint-hearted.  And  at  last  we 
happened  up  against  Mr.  Badger's  back  door, 
and  made  so  bold  as  to  knock,  sir,  for  Mr. 
Badger  he  's  a  kind-hearted  gentleman,  as  every 
one  knows — " 

91 


THE   WIND    IN    THE    WILLOWS 

'I  understand,"  said  the  Rat,  cutting  himself 
some  rashers  from  a  side  of  bacon,  while  the 
Mole  dropped  some  eggs  into  a  saucepan.  "  And 
what 's  the  weather  like  outside?  You  needn't 
'sir'  me  quite  so  much,"  he  added. 

"O,  terrible  bad,  sir,  terrible  deep  the  snow 
is,"  said  the  hedgehog.  "No  getting  out  for  the 
likes  of  you  gentlemen  to-day." 

"Where's  Mr.  Badger?"  inquired  the  Mole 
as  he  warmed  the  coffee-pot  before  the  fire. 

'The  master  's  gone  into  his  study,  sir,"  re- 
pled  the  hedgehog,  "and  he  said  as  how  he  was 
going  to  be  particular  busy  this  morning,  and 
on  no  account  was  he  to  be  disturbed." 

This  explanation,  of  course,  was  thoroughly 
understood  by  every  one  present.  The  fact  is, 
as  already  set  forth,  when  you  live  a  life  of 
intense  activity  for  six  months  in  the  year,  and 
of  comparative  or  actual  somnolence  for  the 
other  six,  during  the  latter  period  you  cannot 
be  continually  pleading  sleepiness  when  there 
are  people  about  or  things  to  be  done.  The  ex- 
cuse gets  monotonous.  The  animals  well  knew 
that  Badger,  having  eaten  a  hearty  breakfast, 

92 


MR.    BADGER 

had  retired  to  his  study  and  settled  himself  in 
an  arm-chair  with  his  legs  up  on  another  and  a 
red  cotton  handkerchief  over  his  face,  and  was 
being  "busy"  in  the  usual  way  at  this  time  of 
the  year. 

The  front-door  bell  clanged  loudly,  and  the 
Rat,  who  was  very  greasy  with  buttered  toast, 
sent  Billy,  the  smaller  hedgehog,  to  see  who  it 
might  be.  There  was  a  sound  of  much  stamp- 
ing in  the  hall,  and  presently  Billy  returned  in 
front  of  the  Otter,  who  threw  himself  on  the 
Rat  with  an  embrace  and  a  shout  of  affection- 
ate greeting. 

"Get  off!"  spluttered  the  Rat,  with  his  mouth 
full. 

"Thought  I  should  find  you  here  all  right," 
said  the  Otter  cheerfully.  'They  were  all  in  a 
great  state  of  alarm  along  River  Bank  when  I  ar- 
rived this  morning.  Rat  never  been  home  all 
night  —  nor  Mole  either  —  something  dreadful 
must  have  happened,  they  said;  and  the  snow 
had  covered  up  all  your  tracks,  of  course.  But 
I  knew  that  when  people  were  in  any  fix  they 
mostly  went  to  Badger,  or  else  Badger  got  to 

93 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

know  of  it  somehow,  so  I  came  straight  off  here, 
through  the  Wild  Wood  and  the  snow!  My! 
it  was  fine,  coming  through  the  snow  as  the  red 
sun  was  rising  and  showing  against  the  black 
tree-trunks!  As  you  went  along  in  the  stillness, 
every  now  and  then  masses  of  snow  slid  off  the 
branches  suddenly  with  a  flop!  making  you 
jump  and  run  for  cover.  Snow-castles  and 
snow-caverns  had  sprung  up  out  of  nowhere  in 
the  night  —  and  snow  bridges,  terraces,  ram- 
parts —  I  could  have  stayed  and  played  with 
them  for  hours.  Here  and  there  great  branches 
had  been  torn  away  by  the  sheer  weight  of  the 
snow,  and  robins  perched  and  hopped  on  them 
in  their  perky  conceited  way,  just  as  if  they  had 
done  it  themselves.  A  ragged  string  of  wild 
geese  passed  overhead,  high  on  the  grey  sky, 
and  a  few  rooks  whirled  over  the  trees,  inspected, 
and  flapped  off  homewards  with  a  disgusted  ex- 
pression; but  I  met  no  sensible  being  to  ask  the 
news  of.  About  halfway  across  I  came  on  a  rab- 
bit sitting  on  a  stump,  cleaning  his  silly  face 
with  his  paws.  He  was  a  pretty  scared  animal 
when  I  crept  up  behind  him  and  placed  a  heavy 

94 


Through  tin-  Wild  Wood  ami  the  snoii- 


MR.    BADGER 

fore-paw  on  his  shoulder.  I  had  to  cuff  his  head 
once  or  twice  to  get  any  sense  out  of  it  at  all. 
At  last  I  managed  to  extract  from  him  that 
Mole  had  been  seen  in  the  Wild  Wood  last 
night  by  one  of  them.  It  was  the  talk  of  the 
burrows,  he  said,  how  Mole,  Mr.  Rat's  par- 
ticular friend,  was  in  a  bad  fix;  how  he  had  lost 
his  way,  and  'They'  were  up  and  out  hunting, 
and  were  chivvying  him  round  and  round. 
'Then  why  didn't  any  of  you  do  something?'  I 
asked.  'You  mayn't  be  blessed  with  brains, 
but  there  are  hundreds  and  hundreds  of  you, 
big,  stout  fellows,  as  fat  as  butter,  and  your 
burrows  running  in  all  directions,  and  you  could 
have  taken  him  in  and  made  him  safe  and 
comfortable,  or  tried  to,  at  all  events.'  'What, 
us?'  he  merely  said:  'do  something?  us  rab- 
bits?' So  I  cuffed  him  again  and  left  him. 
There  was  nothing  else  to  be  done.  At  any 
rate,  I  had  learnt  something;  and  if  I  had 
had  the  luck  to  meet  any  of  'Them'  I  'd  have 
learnt  something  more  —  or  they  would." 

'Weren't  you  at  all  —  er  —  nervous?"  asked 
the   Mole,   some   of  yesterday's   terror  coming 

95 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

back    to    him    at    the    mention    of    the    Wild 
Wood. 

" Nervous?  "  The  Otter  showed  a  gleaming  set 
of  strong  white  teeth  as  he  laughed.  "I  'd  give 
'em  nerves  if  any  of  them  tried  anything  on  with 
me.  Here,  Mole,  fry  me  some  slices  of  ham,  like 
the  good  little  chap  you  are.  I  'm  frightfully 
hungry,  and  I  Ve  got  any  amount  to  say  to 
Ratty  here.  Haven't  seen  him  for  an  age." 

So  the  good-natured  Mole,  having  cut  some 
slices  of  ham,  set  the  hedgehogs  to  fry  it,  and 
returned  to  his  own  breakfast,  while  the  Otter 
and  the  Rat,  their  heads  together,  eagerly 
talked  river-shop,  which  is  long  shop  and  talk 
that  is  endless,  running  on  like  the  babbling 
river  itself. 

A  plate  of  fried  ham  had  just  been  cleared 
and  sent  back  for  more,  when  the  Badger  en- 
tered, yawning  and  rubbing  his  eyes,  and  greeted 
them  all  in  his  quiet,  simple  way,  with  kind 
inquiries  for  every  one.  "It  must  be  getting  on 
for  luncheon  time,"  he  remarked  to  the  Otter. 
"Better  stop  and  have  it  with  us.  You  must 
be  hungry,  this  cold  morning." 

96 


MR.    BADGER 

"Rather!"  replied  the  Otter,  winking  at  the 
Mole.  'The  sight  of  these  greedy  young  hedge- 
hogs stuffing  themselves  with  fried  ham  makes 
me  feel  positively  famished." 

The  hedgehogs,  who  were  just  beginning  to 
feel  hungry  again  after  their  porridge,  and  after 
working  so  hard  at  their  frying,  looked  timidly 
up  at  Mr.  Badger,  but  were  too  shy  to  say 
anything. 

"Here,  you  two  youngsters,  be  off  home  to 
your  mother,"  said  the  Badger  kindly.  "I  '11 
send  some  one  with  you  to  show  you  the  way. 
You  won't  want  any  dinner  to-day,  I  '11  be 
bound." 

He  gave  them  sixpence  apiece  and  a  pat  on 
the  head,  and  they  went  off  with  much  re- 
spectful swinging  of  caps  and  touching  of  fore- 
locks. 

Presently  they  all  sat  down  to  luncheon  to- 
gether. The  Mole  found  himself  placed  next 
to  Mr.  Badger,  and,  as  the  other  two  were  still 
deep  in  river-gossip  from  which  nothing  could 
divert  them,  he  took  the  opportunity  to  tell 
Badger  how  comfortable  and  home-like  it  all 

97 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

felt  to  him.  "Once  well  underground,"  he  said, 
"you  know  exactly  where  you  are.  Nothing 
can  happen  to  you,  and  nothing  can  get  at  you. 
You  're  entirely  your  own  master,  and  you  don't 
have  to  consult  anybody  or  mind  what  they 
say.  Things  go  on  all  the  same  overhead,  and 
you  let  'em,  and  don't  bother  about  'em.  When 
you  want  to,  up  you  go,  and  there  the  things 
are,  waiting  for  you." 

The  Badger  simply  beamed  on  him.  'That 's 
exactly  what  I  say,"  he  replied.  "There's  no 
security,  or  peace  and  tranquillity,  except  under- 
ground. And  then,  if  your  ideas  get  larger  and 
you  want  to  expand  —  why,  a  dig  and  a  scrape, 
and  there  you  are!  If  you  feel  your  house  is  a 
bit  too  big,  you  stop  up  a  hole  or  two,  and 
there  you  are  again!  No  builders,  no  trades- 
men, no  remarks  passed  on  you  by  fellows  look- 
ing over  your  wall,  and,  above  all,  no  weather. 
Look  at  Rat,  now.  A  couple  of  feet  of  flood 
water,  and  he  's  got  to  move  into  hired  lodg- 
ings; uncomfortable,  inconveniently  situated, 
and  horribly  expensive.  Take  Toad.  I  say 
nothing  against  Toad  Hall;  quite  the  best  house 

98 


MR.    BADGER 

in  these  parts,  as  a  house.  But  supposing  a  fire 
breaks  out  —  where  's  Toad?  Supposing  tiles 
are  blown  off,  or  walls  sink  or  crack,  or  win- 
dows get  broken  —  where  's  Toad?  Supposing 
the  rooms  are  draughty — I  hate  a  draught  myself 
—  where  's  Toad?  No,  up  and  out  of  doors  is 
good  enough  to  roam  about  and  get  one's  living 
in;  but  underground  to  come  back  to  at  last  — 
that's  my  idea  of  home!'1' 

The  Mole  assented  heartily;  and  the  Badger 
in  consequence  got  very  friendly  with  him. 
'When  lunch  is  over,"  he  said,  "I  '11  take  you 
all  round  this  little  place  of  mine.  I  can  see 
you  '11  appreciate  it.  You  understand  what 
domestic  architecture  ought  to  be,  you  do." 

After  luncheon,  accordingly,  when  the  other 
two  had  settled  themselves  into  the  chimney- 
corner  and  had  started  a  heated  argument  on 
the  subject  of  eels,  the  Badger  lighted  a  lantern 
and  bade  the  Mole  follow  him.  Crossing  the 
hall,  they  passed  down  one  of  the  principal 
tunnels,  and  the  wavering  light  of  the  lantern 
gave  glimpses  on  either  side  of  rooms  both 

rge  and  small,  some  mere  cupboards,  others 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

nearly  as  broad  and  imposing  as  Toad's  dining- 
hall.  A  narrow  passage  at  right  angles  led  them 
into  another  corridor,  and  here  the  same  thing 
was  repeated.  The  Mole  was  staggered  at  the 
size,  the  extent,  the  ramifications  of  it  all;  at 
the  length  of  the  dim  passages,  the  solid  vault- 
ings of  the  crammed  store-chambers,  the  masonry 
everywhere,  the  pillars,  the  arches,  the  pave- 
ments. "How  on  earth,  Badger."  he  said  at 
last,  "did  you  ever  find  time  and  strength  to  do 
all  this?  It's  astonishing!" 

"It  would  be  astonishing  indeed,"  said  the 
Badger  simply,  "if  I  had  done  it.  But  as  a 
matter  of  fact  I  did  none  of  it  —  only  cleaned 
out  the  passages  and  chambers,  as  far  as  I  had 
need  of  them.  There  's  lots  more  of  it,  all  round 
about.  I  see  you  don't  understand,  and  I  must 
explain  it  to  you.  Well,  very  long  ago,  on  the 
spot  where  the  Wild  Wood  waves  now,  before 
ever  it  had  planted  itself  and  grown  up  to  what 
it  now  is,  there  was  a  city  —  a  city  of  people, 
you  know.  Here,  where  we  are  standing,  they 
lived,  and  walked,  and  talked,  and  slept,  and 
carried  on  their  business.  Here  they  stabled 

100 


MR.    BADGER 

their  horses  and  feasted,  from  here  they  rode 
out  to  fight  or  drove  out  to  trade.  They  were  a 
powerful  people,  and  rich,  and  great  builders. 
They  built  to  last,  for  they  thought  their  city 
would  last  for  ever." 

"But  what  has  become  of  them  all?'"  asked 
the  Mole. 

"Who  can  tell?"  said  the  Badger.  "People 
come  —  they  stay  for  a  while,  they  flourish,  they 
build  —  and  they  go.  It  is  their  way.  But  we 
remain.  There  were  badgers  here,  I  Ve  been 
told,  long  before  that  same  city  ever  came  to 
be.  And  now  there  are  badgers  here  again. 
We  are  an  enduring  lot,  and  we  may  move  out 
for  a  time,  but  we  wait,  and  are  patient,  and 
back  we  come.  And  so  it  will  ever  be." 

'Well,  and  when  they  went  at  last,  those 
people?"  said  the  Mole. 

'When  they  went,"  continued  the  Badger, 
'the  strong  winds  and  persistent  rains  took  the 
matter  in  hand,  patiently,  ceaselessly,  year  after 
year.  Perhaps  we  badgers  too,  in  our  small 
way,  helped  a  little  —  who  knows?  It  was  all 
down,  down,  down,  gradually  —  ruin  and  level- 

101 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

ling  and  disappearance.  Then  it  was  all  up,  up, 
up,  gradually,  as  seeds  grew  to  saplings,  and 
saplings  to  forest  trees,  and  bramble  and  fern 
came  creeping  in  to  help.  Leaf -mould  rose  and 
obliterated,  streams  in  their  winter  freshets 
brought  sand  and  soil  to  clog  and  to  cover,  and 
in  course  of  time  our  home  was  ready  for  us 
again,  and  we  moved  in.  Up  above  us,  on  the 
surface,  the  same  thing  happened.  Animals 
arrived,  liked  the  look  of  the  place,  took  up 
their  quarters,  settled  down,  spread,  and  flour- 
ished. They  didn't  bother  themselves  about 
the  past-  -they  never  do;  they're  too  busy. 
The  place  was  a  bit  humpy  and  hillocky,  nat- 
urally, and  full  of  holes;  but  that  was  rather  an 
advantage.  And  they  don't  bother  about  the 
future,  either  -  -  the  future  when  perhaps  the 
people  will  move  in  again  -  -  for  a  time  —  as 
may  very  well  be.  The  Wild  Wood  is  pretty 
well  populated  by  now;  with  all  the  usual  lot, 
good,  bad,  and  indifferent  —  I  name  no  names. 
It  takes  all  sorts  to  make  a  wrorld.  But  I  fancy 
you  know  something  about  them  yourself  by 

this  time." 

102 


MR.    BADGER 

'I  do  indeed,"  said  the  Mole,  with  a  slight 
shiver. 

'Well,  well,"  said  the  Badger,  patting  him  on 
the  shoulder,  "it  was  your  first  experience  of 
them,  you  see.  They  're  not  so  bad  really;  and 
we  must  all  live  and  let  live.  But  I  '11  pass  the 
word  around  to-morrow,  and  I  think  you  '11  have 
no  further  trouble.  Any  friend  of  mine  walks 
where  he  likes  in  this  country,  or  I  '11  know  the 
reason  why!" 

When  they  got  back  to  the  kitchen  again, 
they  found  the  Rat  walking  up  and  down,  very 
restless.  The  underground  atmosphere  was  op- 
pressing him  and  getting  on  his  nerves,  and  he 
seemed  really  to  be  afraid  that  the  river  would 
run  away  if  he  wasn't  there  to  look  after  it. 
So  he  had  his  overcoat  on,  and  his  pistols  thrust 
into  his  belt  again.  "Come  along,  Mole,"  he 
said  anxiously,  as  soon  as  he  caught  sight  of 
them.  'We  must  get  off  while  it's  daylight. 
Don't  want  to  spend  another  night  in  the  Wild 
Wood  again." 

"It  '11  be  all  right,  my  fine  fellow,"  said  the 
Otter.  "I  'm  coming  along  with  you,  and  I 

103 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

know  every  path  blindfold ;  and  if  there 's  a 
head  that  needs  to  be  punched,  you  can  con- 
fidently rely  upon  me  to  punch  it." 

You  really  needn't  fret,  Ratty,"  added  the 
Badger  placidly.  "My  passages  run  further 
than  you  think,  and  I  've  bolt-holes  to  the  edge 
of  the  wood  in  several  directions,  though  I  don't 
care  for  everybody  to  know  about  them.  When 
you  really  have  to  go,  you  shall  leave  by  one  of 
my  short  cuts.  Meantime,  make  yourself  easy, 
and  sit  down  again." 

The  Rat  was  nevertheless  still  anxious  to 
be  off  and  attend  to  his  river,  so  the  Badger, 
taking  up  his  lantern  again,  led  the  way  along 
a  damp  and  airless  tunnel  that  wound  and 
dipped,  part  vaulted,  part  hewn  through  solid 
rock,  for  a  weary  distance  that  seemed  to  be 
miles.  At  last  daylight  began  to  show  itself 
confusedly  through  tangled  growth  overhang- 
ing the  mouth  of  the  passage;  and  the  Badger, 
bidding  them  a  hasty  good-bye,  pushed  them 
hurriedly  through  the  opening,  made  everything 
look  as  natural  as  possible  again,  with  creepers, 
brushwood,  and  dead  leaves,  and  retreated. 

104 


MR.    BADGER 

They  found  themselves  standing  on  the  very 
edge  of  the  Wild  Wood.  Rocks  and  brambles 
and  tree-roots  behind  them,  confusedly  heaped 
and  tangled;  in  front,  a  great  space  of  quiet 
fields,  hemmed  by  lines  of  hedges  black  on  the 
snow,  and,  far  ahead,  a  glint  of  the  familiar 
old  river,  while  the  wintry  sun  hung  red  and 
low  on  the  horizon.  The  Otter,  as  knowing  all 
the  paths,  took  charge  of  the  party,  and  they 
trailed  out  on  a  bee-line  for  a  distant  stile. 
Pausing  there  a  moment  and  looking  back,  they 
saw  the  whole  mass  of  the  Wild  Wood,  dense, 
menacing,  compact,  grimly  set  in  vast  white 
surroundings;  simultaneously  they  turned  and 
made  swiftly  for  home,  for  firelight  and  the 
familiar  things  it  played  on,  for  the  voice, 
sounding  cheerily  outside  their  window,  of  the 
river  that  they  knew  and  trusted  in  all  its  moods, 
that  never  made  them  afraid  with  any  amaze- 
ment. 

As  he  hurried  along,  eagerly  anticipating  the 
moment  when  he  would  be  at  home  again 
among  the  things  he  knew  and  liked,  the  Mole 
saw  clearly  that  he  was  an  animal  of  tilled  field 

105 


THE   WIND   IN   THE   WILLOWS 

and  hedge-row,  linked  to  the  ploughed  furrow, 
the  frequented  pasture,  the  lane  of  evening  lin- 
gerings,  the  cultivated  garden-plot.  For  others 
the  asperities,  the  stubborn  endurance,  or  the 
clash  of  actual  conflict,  that  went  with  Nature 
in  the  rough;  he  must  be  wise,  must  keep  to 
the  pleasant  places  in  which  his  lines  were  laid 
and  which  held  adventure  enough,  in  their  way, 
to  last  for  a  lifetime. 


106 


V 
DULCE   DOMUM 


V 
DULCE   DOMUM 

THE  sheep  ran  huddling  together  against  the 
hurdles,  blowing  out  thin  nostrils  and 
stamping  with  delicate  fore-feet,  their  heads 
thrown  back  and  a  light  steam  rising  from  the 
crowded  sheep-pen  into  the  frosty  air,  as  the 
two  animals  hastened  by  in  high  spirits,  with 
much  chatter  and  laughter.  They  were  return- 
ing across  country  after  a  long  day's  outing 
with  Otter,  hunting  and  exploring  on  the  wride 
uplands,  where  certain  streams  tributary  to 
their  own  River  had  their  first  small  begin- 
nings; and  the  shades  of  the  short  winter  day 
were  closing  in  on  them,  and  they  had  still 
some  distance  to  go.  Plodding  at  random  across 
the  plough,  they  had  heard  the  sheep  and  had 
made  for  them;  and  now,  leading  from  the 
sheep-pen,  they  found  a  beaten  track  that  made 
walking  a  lighter  business,  and  responded,  more- 

109 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

over,  to  that  small  inquiring  something  which 
all  animals  carry  inside  them,  saying  unmis- 
takably, 'Yes,  quite  right;  this  leads  home!" 

'It  looks  as  if  we  were  coming  to  a  village," 
said  the  Mole  somewhat  dubiously,  slackening 
his  pace,  as  the  track,  that  had  in  time  become 
a  path  and  then  had  developed  into  a  lane,  now 
handed  them  over  to  the  charge  of  a  well- 
metalled  road.  The  animals  did  not  hold  with 
villages,  and  their  own  highways,  thickly  fre- 
quented as  they  were,  took  an  independent 
course,  regardless  of  church,  post-office,  or 
public-house. 

"Oh,  never  mind!'"  said  the  Rat.  "At  this 
season  of  the  year  they  're  all  safe  indoors  by 
this  time,  sitting  round  the  fire;  men,  women, 
and  children,  dogs  and  cats  and  all.  We  shall 
slip  through  all  right,  without  any  bother  or 
unpleasantness,  and  we  can  have  a  look  at 
them  through  their  windows  if  you  like,  and  see 
what  they  're  doing." 

The  rapid  nightfall  of  mid-December  had 
quite  beset  the  little  village  as  they  approached 
it  on  soft  feet  over  a  first  thin  fall  of  powdery 

110 


DULCE   DOMUM 

snow.  Little  was  visible  but  squares  of  a  dusky 
orange-red  on  either  side  of  the  street,  where 
the  firelight  or  lamplight  of  each  cottage  over- 
flowed through  the  casements  into  the  dark 
world  without.  Most  of  the  low  latticed  win- 
dows were  innocent  of  blinds,  and  to  the  lookers- 
in  from  outside,  the  inmates,  gathered  round 
the  tea-table,  absorbed  in  handiwork,  or  talking 
with  laughter  and  gesture,  had  each  that  happy 
grace  which  is  the  last  thing  the  skilled  actor 
shall  capture  —  the  natural  grace  which  goes 
with  perfect  unconsciousness  of  observation. 
Moving  at  will  from  one  theatre  to  another, 
the  two  spectators,  so  far  from  home  themselves, 
had  something  of  wistfulness  in  their  eyes  as 
they  watched  a  cat  being  stroked,  a  sleepy  child 
picked  up  and  huddled  off  to  bed,  or  a  tired 
man  stretch  and  knock  out  his  pipe  on  the  end 
of  a  smouldering  log. 

But  it  was  from  one  little  window,  with  its 
blind  drawn  down,  a  mere  blank  transparency 
on  the  night,  that  the  sense  of  home  and  the 
little  curtained  world  within  walls  -  -  the  larger 
stressful  world  of  outside  Nature  shut  out  and 

111 


THE   WIND   IN   THE   WILLOWS 

forgotten  -  -  most  pulsated.  Close  against  the 
white  blind  hung  a  bird-cage,  clearly  silhouetted, 
every  wire,  perch,  and  appurtenance  distinct 
and  recognisable,  even  to  yesterday's  dull-edged 
lump  of  sugar.  On  the  middle  perch  the  fluffy 
occupant,  head  tucked  well  into  feathers,  seemed 
so  near  to  them  as  to  be  easily  stroked,  had  they 
tried;  even  the  delicate  tips  of  his  plumped-out 
plumage  pencilled  plainly  on  the  illuminated 
screen.  As  they  looked,  the  sleepy  little  fellow 
stirred  uneasily,  woke,  shook  himself,  and  raised 
his  head.  They  could  see  the  gape  of  his  tiny 
beak  as  he  yawned  in  a  bored  sort  of  way, 
looked  round,  and  then  settled  his  head  into 
his  back  again,  while  the  ruffled  feathers  gradu- 
ally subsided  into  perfect  stillness.  Then  a  gust 
of  bitter  wind  took  them  in  the  back  of  the 
neck,  a  small  sting  of  frozen  sleet  on  the  skin 
woke  them  as  from  a  dream,  and  they  knew 
their  toes  to  be  cold  and  their  legs  tired,  and 
their  own  home  distant  a  weary  way. 

Once  beyond  the  village,  where  the  cottages 
ceased  abruptly,  on  either  side  of  the  road  they 
could  smell  through  the  darkness  the  friendly 

112 


DULCE   DOMUM 

fields  again;  and  they  braced  themselves  for 
the  last  long  stretch,  the  home  stretch,  the 
stretch  that  we  know  is  bound  to  end,  some 
time,  in  the  rattle  of  the  door-latch,  the  sudden 
firelight,  and  the  sight  of  familiar  things  greet- 
ing us  as  long-absent  travellers  from  far  over- 
sea. They  plodded  along  steadily  and  silently, 
each  of  them  thinking  his  own  thoughts.  The 
Mole's  ran  a  good  deal  on  supper,  as  it  was 
pitch-dark,  and  it  was  all  a  strange  country  for 
him  as  far  as  he  knew,  and  he  was  following 
obediently  in  the  wake  of  the  Rat,  leaving  the 
guidance  entirely  to  him.  As  for  the  Rat,  he 
was  walking  a  little  way  ahead,  as  his  habit 
was,  his  shoulders  humped,  his  eyes  fixed  on 
the  straight  grey  road  in  front  of  him;  so  he 
did  not  notice  poor  Mole  when  suddenly  the 
summons  reached  him,  and  took  him  like  an 
electric  shock. 

We  others,  who  have  long  lost  the  more  subtle 
of  the  physical  senses,  have  not  even  proper 
terms  to  express  an  animal's  inter-communica- 
tions with  his  surroundings,  living  or  otherwise, 
and  have  only  the  word  "smell,"  for  instance,  to 

113 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

include  the  whole  range  of  delicate  thrills  which 
murmur  in  the  nose  of  the  animal  night  and 
day,  summoning,  warning,  inciting,  repelling.  It 
was  one  of  these  mysterious  fairy  calls  from  out 
the  void  that  suddenly  reached  Mole  in  the  dark- 
ness, making  him  tingle  through  and  through 
with  its  very  familiar  appeal,  even  while  yet 
he  could  not  clearly  remember  what  it  was. 
He  stopped  dead  in  his  tracks,  his  nose  search- 
ing hither  and  thither  in  its  efforts  to  recapture 
the  fine  filament,  the  telegraphic  current,  that 
had  so  strongly  moved  him.  A  moment,  and 
he  had  caught  it  again;  and  with  it  this  time 
came  recollection  in  fullest  flood. 

Home!  That  was  what  they  meant,  those 
caressing  appeals,  those  soft  touches  wafted 
through  the  air,  those  invisible  little  hands  pull- 
ing and  tugging,  all  one  way!  Why,  it  must 
be  quite  close  by  him  at  that  moment,  his  old 
home  that  he  had  hurriedly  forsaken  and  never 
sought  again,  that  day  when  he  first  found  the 
River!  And  now  it  was  sending  out  its  scouts 
and  its  messengers  to  capture  him  and  bring 
him  in.  Since  his  escape  on  that  bright  morn- 

114 


DULCE   DOMUM 

ing  he  had  hardly  given  it  a  thought,  so  ab- 
sorbed had  he  been  in  his  new  life,  in  all  its 
pleasures,  its  surprises,  its  fresh  and  captivating 
experiences.  Now,  with  a  rush  of  old  memo- 
ries, how  clearly  it  stood  up  before  him,  in  the 
darkness !  Shabby  indeed,  and  small  and  poorly 
furnished,  and  yet  his,  the  home  he  had  made 
for  himself,  the  home  he  had  been  so  happy  to 
get  back  to  after  his  day's  work.  And  the 
home  had  been  happy  with  him,  too,  evidently, 
and  was  missing  him,  and  wanted  him  back,  and 
was  telling  him  so,  through  his  nose,  sorrow- 
fully, reproachfully,  but  with  no  bitterness  or 
anger;  only  with  plaintive  reminder  that  it  was 
there,  and  wanted  him. 

The  call  was  clear,  the  summons  was  plain. 
He  must  obey  it  instantly,  and  go.  "Ratty!" 
he  called,  full  of  joyful  excitement,  'hold  on! 
Come  back!  I  want  you,  quick!" 

"Oh,  come  along,  Mole,  do!"  replied  the  Rat 
cheerfully,  still  plodding  along. 

"Please  stop,  Ratty!"  pleaded  the  poor  Mole, 
in  anguish  of  heart.  "You  don't  understand! 
It's  my  home,  my  old  home!  I  've  just  come 

115 


THE   WIND    IN    THE   WILLOWS 

across  the  smell  of  it,  and  it 's  close  by  here, 
really  quite  close.  And  I  must  go  to  it,  I  must, 
I  must!  Oh,  come  back,  Ratty!  Please,  please 
come  back ! ' 

The  Rat  was  by  this  time  very  far  ahead,  too 
far  to  hear  clearly  what  the  Mole  was  calling, 
too  far  to  catch  the  sharp  note  of  painful  appeal 
in  his  voice.  And  he  was  much  taken  up  with 
the  weather,  for  he  too,  could  smell  something 

-  something  suspiciously  like  approaching  snow. 

"Mole,  we  mustn't  stop  now,  really!"  he 
called  back.  'We  '11  come  for  it  to-morrow, 
whatever  it  is  you  've  found.  But  I  daren't 
stop  now  —  it 's  late,  and  the  snow  's  coming  on 
again,  and  I  'm  not  sure  of  the  way!  And  I 
want  your  nose,  Mole,  so  come  on  quick,  there  's 
a  good  fellow!"  And  the  Rat  pressed  forward 
on  his  way  without  waiting  for  an  answer. 

Poor  Mole  stood  alone  in  the  road,  his  heart 
torn  asunder,  and  a  big  sob  gathering,  gathering? 
somewhere  low  down  inside  him,  to  leap  up  to 
the  surface  presently,  he  knew,  in  passionate 
escape.  But  even  under  such  a  test  as  this  his 
loyalty  to  his  friend  stood  firm.  Never  for  a 

116 


DULCE   DOMUM 

moment  did  he  dream  of  abandoning  him. 
Meanwhile,  the  wafts  from  his  old  home  pleaded, 
whispered,  conjured,  and  finally  claimed  him 
imperiously.  He  dared  not  tarry  longer  within 
their  magic  circle.  With  a  wrench  that  tore 
his  very  heart-strings  he  set  his  face  down  the 
road  and  followed  submissively  in  the  track  of 
the  Rat,  while  faint,  thin  little  smells,  still  dog- 
ging his  retreating  nose,  reproached  him  for  his 
new  friendship  and  his  callous  forgetfulness. 

With  an  effort  he  caught  up  to  the  unsuspect- 
ing Rat,  who  began  chattering  cheerfully  about 
what  they  would  do  when  they  got  back,  and 
how  jolly  a  fire  of  logs  in  the  parlour  would  be, 
and  what  a  supper  he  meant  to  eat;  never 
noticing  his  companion's  silence  and  distressful 
state  of  mind.  At  last,  however,  when  they  had 
gone  some  considerable  wray  further,  and  were 
passing  some  tree  stumps  at  the  edge  of  a 
copse  that  bordered  the  road,  he  stopped  and 
said  kindly,  "Look  here,  Mole,  old  chap,  you 
seem  dead  tired.  No  talk  left  in  you,  and  your 
feet  dragging  like  lead.  We  '11  sit  down  here 
for  a  minute  and  rest.  The  snow  has  held  off 

117 


THE    WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

so    far,    and    the   best  part    of  our  journey  is 


over.' 


The  Mole  subsided  forlornly  on  a  tree  stump 
and  tried  to  control  himself,  for  he  felt  it  surely 
coming.  The  sob  he  had  fought  with  so  long 
refused  to  be  beaten.  Up  and  up,  it  forced  its 
way  to  the  air,  and  then  another,  and  another, 
and  others  thick  and  fast;  till  poor  Mole  at  last 
gave  up  the  struggle,  and  cried  freely  and  help- 
lessly and  openly,  now  that  he  knew  it  was  all 
over  and  he  had  lost  what  he  could  hardly  be 
said  to  have  found. 

The  Rat,  astonished  and  dismayed  at  the 
violence  of  Mole's  paroxysm  of  grief,  did  not 
dare  to  speak  for  a  while.  At  last  he  said,  very 
quietly  and  sympathetically,  'What  is  it,  old 
fellow?  Whatever  can  be  the  matter?  Tell  us 
your  trouble,  and  let  me  see  what  I  can  do." 

Poor  Mole  found  it  difficult  to  get  any  words 
out  between  the  upheavals  of  his  chest  that 
followed  one  upon  another  so  quickly  and  held 
back  speech  and  choked  it  as  it  came.  "I  know 
it 's  a  -  -  shabby,  dingy  little  place,"  he  sobbed 
forth  at  last  brokenly:  "not  like-  -your  cosy 

118 


DULCE   DOMUM 

quarters  —  or  Toad's  beautiful  hall  —  or  Bad- 
ger's great  house  —  but  it  was  my  own  little 
home  —  and  I  was  fond  of  it  —  and  I  went  away 
and  forgot  all  about  it — and  then  I  smelt  it 
suddenly  —  on  the  road,  when  I  called  and  you 
wouldn't  listen,  Rat  —  and  everything  came 
back  to  me  with  a  rush  —  and  I  wanted  it !  — 
O  dear,  O  dear !  —  and  when  you  wouldn't  turn 
back,  Ratty  —  and  I  had  to  leave  it,  though  I 
was  smelling  it  all  the  time  —  I  thought  my 
heart  would  break.  —  We  might  have  just  gone 
and  had  one  look  at  it,  Ratty  —  only  one  look 
—  it  was  close  by  —  but  you  wouldn't  turn 
back,  Ratty,  you  wouldn't  turn  back!  O  dear, 
O  dear!" 

Recollection  brought  fresh  waves  of  sorrow, 
and  sobs  again  took  full  charge  of  him,  pre- 
venting further  speech. 

The  Rat  stared  straight  in  front  of  him, 
saying  nothing,  only  patting  Mole  gently  on 
the  shoulder.  After  a  time  he  muttered  gloom- 
ily, "I  see  it  all  now!  What  a  pig  I  have  been! 
A  pig  —  that 's  me!  Just  a  pig  —  a  plain  pig!" 

He  waited  till  Mole's  sobs  became  gradually 

119 


THE    WIND    IN   THE    WILLOWS 

less  stormy  and  more  rhythmical;  he  waited 
till  at  last  sniffs  were  frequent  and  sobs  only 
intermittent.  Then  he  rose  from  his  seat,  and, 
remarking  carelessly,  '  Well,  now  we  'd  really 
better  be  getting  on,  old  chap!"  set  off  up  the 
road  again  over  the  toilsome  way  they  had  come. 

"Wherever  are  you  (hie)  going  to  (hie), 
Ratty?"  cried  the  tearful  Mole,  looking  up  in 
alarm. 

"We  're  going  to  find  that  home  of  yours, 
old  fellow,"  replied  the  Rat  pleasantly;  "so 
you  had  better  come  along,  for  it  will  take  some 
finding,  and  we  shall  want  your  nose." 

"Oh,  come  back,  Ratty,  do!"  cried  the  Mole, 
getting  up  and  hurrying  after  him.  "It's  no 
good,  I  tell  you!  It's  too  late,  and  too  dark, 
and  the  place  is  too  far  off,  and  the  snow  's 
coming !  And  —  and  I  never  meant  to  let  you 
know  I  was  feeling  that  way  about  it  —  it  was 
all  an  accident  and  a  mistake!  And  think  of 
River  Bank,  and  your  supper!" 

"Hang  River  Bank,  and  supper,  too!"  said 
the  Rat  heartily.  :'I  tell  you,  I  'm  going  to 
find  this  place  now,  if  I  stay  out  all  night.  So 

120 


DULCE   DOMUM 

cheer  up,  old  chap,  and  take  my  arm,  and  we  '11 
very  soon  be  back  there  again." 

Still  snuffling,  pleading,  and  reluctant,  Mole 
suffered  himself  to  be  dragged  back  along  the 
road  by  his  imperious  companion,  who  by  a 
flow  of  cheerful  talk  and  anecdote  endeavoured 
to  beguile  his  spirits  back  and  make  the  weary 
way  seem  shorter.  When  at  last  it  seemed  to 
the  Rat  that  they  must  be  nearing  that  part 
of  the  road  where  the  Mole  had  been  "held  up," 
he  said,  " Now,  no  more  talking.  Business!  Use 
your  nose,  and  give  your  mind  to  it." 

They  moved  on  in  silence  for  some  little  way, 
when  suddenly  the  Rat  was  conscious,  through 
his  arm  that  was  linked  in  Mole's,  of  a  faint 
sort  of  electric  thrill  that  was  passing  down  that 
animal's  body.  Instantly  he  disengaged  himself, 
fell  back  a  pace,  and  waited,  all  attention. 

The  signals  were  coming  through! 

Mole  stood  a  moment  rigid,  while  his  uplifted 
nose,  quivering  slightly,  felt  the  air. 

Then  a  short,  quick  run  forward  -  -  a  fault  — 
a  check  —  a  try  back;  and  then  a  slow,  steady, 

confident  advance. 

121 


THE   WIND    IN   THE    WILLOWS 

The  Rat,  much  excited,  kept  close  to  his  heels 
as  the  Mole,  with  something  of  the  air  of  a 
sleep-walker,  crossed  a  dry  ditch,  scrambled 
through  a  hedge,  and  nosed  his  way  over  a 
field  open  and  trackless  and  bare  in  the  faint 
starlight. 

Suddenly,  without  giving  warning,  he  dived; 
but  the  Rat  was  on  the  alert,  and  promptly 
followed  him  down  the  tunnel  to  which  his  un- 
erring nose  had  faithfully  led  him. 

It  was  close  and  airless,  and  the  earthy  smell 
wras  strong,  and  it  seemed  a  long  time  to  Rat 
ere  the  passage  ended  and  he  could  stand  erect 
and  stretch  and  shake  himself.  The  Mole 
struck  a  match,  and  by  its  light  the  Rat  saw 
that  they  were  standing  in  an  open  space, 
neatly  swept  and  sanded  underfoot,  and  directly 
facing  them  was  Mole's  little  front  door,  with 
'Mole  End"  painted,  in  Gothic  lettering,  over 
the  bell-pull  at  the  side. 

Mole  reached  down  a  lantern  from  a  nail  on 
the  wall  and  lit  it,  and  the  Rat,  looking  round 
him,  saw  that  they  were  in  a  sort  of  fore-court. 
A  garden-seat  stood  on  one  side  of  the  door, 

122 


DULCE   DOMUM 

and  on  the  other  a  roller;  for  the  Mole,  who 
was  a  tidy  animal  when  at  home,  could  not 
stand  having  his  ground  kicked  up  by  other 
animals  into  little  runs  that  ended  in  earth- 
heaps.  On  the  walls  hung  wire  baskets  with 
ferns  in  them,  alternating  with  brackets  carry- 
ing plaster  statuary  -  -  Garibaldi,  and  the  infant 
Samuel,  and  Queen  Victoria,  and  other  heroes 
of  modern  Italy.  Down  an  one  side  of  the  fore- 
court ran  a  skittle-alley,  with  benches  along  it 
and  little  wooden  tables  marked  with  rings  that 
hinted  at  beer-mugs.  In  the  middle  was  a 
small  round  pond  containing  gold-fish  and  sur- 
rounded by  a  cockle-shell  border.  Out  of  the 
centre  of  the  pond  rose  a  fanciful  erection 
clothed  in  more  cockle-shells  and  topped  by  a 
large  silvered  glass  ball  that  reflected  every- 
thing all  wrong  and  had  a  very  pleasing  effect. 
Mole's  face  beamed  at  the  sight  of  all  these 
objects  so  dear  to  him,  and  he  hurried  Rat 
through  the  door,  lit  a  lamp  in  the  hall,  and  took 
one  glance  round  his  old  home.  He  saw  the 
dust  lying  thick  on  everything,  saw  the  cheer- 
less, deserted  look  of  the  long-neglected  house, 

123 


THE    WIND    IN    THE    WILLOWS 

and  its  narrow,  meagre  dimensions,  its  worn 
and  shabby  contents  -  -  and  collapsed  again  on 
a  hall-chair,  his  nose  to  his  paws.  "O  Ratty!" 
he  cried  dismally,  "why  ever  did  I  do  it?  Why 
did  I  bring  you  to  this  poor,  cold  little  place,  on 
a  night  like  this,  when  you  might  have  been  at 
River  Bank  by  this  time,  toasting  your  toes 
before  a  blazing  fire,  with  all  your  own  nice 
things  about  you!" 

The  Rat  paid  no  heed  to  his  doleful  self- 
reproaches.  He  was  running  here  and  there, 
opening  doors,  inspecting  rooms  and  cupboards, 
and  lighting  lamps  and  candles  and  sticking 
them  up  everywhere.  'What  a  capital  little 
house  this  is!"  he  called  out  cheerily.  "So 
compact!  So  well  planned!  Everything  here 
and  everything  in  its  place!  We  '11  make  a  jolly 
night  of  it.  The  first  thing  we  want  is  a  good 
fire;  I  '11  see  to  that  —  I  always  know  where  to 
find  things.  So  this  is  the  parlour?  Splendid! 
Your  own  idea,  those  little  sleeping-bunks  in 
the  wall?  Capital!  Now,  I  '11  fetch  the  wood 
and  the  coals,  and  you  get  a  duster,  Mole  — 
you  '11  find  one  in  the  drawer  of  the  kitchen 

124 


DULCE   DOMUM 

table  —  and  try  and  smarten  things  up  a  bit. 
Bustle  about,  old  chap!" 

Encouraged  by  his  inspiriting  companion,  the 
Mole  roused  himself  and  dusted  and  polished 
with  energy  and  heartiness,  while  the  Rat, 
running  to  and  fro  with  armfuls  of  fuel,  soon 
had  a  cheerful  blaze  roaring  up  the  chimney. 
He  hailed  the  Mole  to  come  and  warm  him- 
self; but  Mole  promptly  had  another  fit  of  the 
blues,  dropping  down  on  a  couch  in  dark  despair 
and  burying  his  face  in  his  duster.  :'Rat,"  he 
moaned,  "how  about  your  supper,  you  poor, 
cold,  hungry,  weary  animal?  I  've  nothing  to 
give  you  —  nothing  —  not  a  crumb!" 

"What  a  fellow  you  are  for  giving  in!"  said 
the  Rat  reproachfully.  'Why,  only  just  now  I 
saw  a  sardine-opener  on  the  kitchen  dresser, 
quite  distinctly;  and  everybody  knows  that 
means  there  are  sardines  about  somewhere  in 
the  neighbourhood.  Rouse  yourself!  pull  your- 
self together,  and  come  with  me  and  forage." 

They  went  and  foraged  accordingly,  hunting 
through  every  cupboard  and  turning  out  every 
drawer.  The  result  was  not  so  very  depressing 

125 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

after  all,  though  of  course  it  might  have  been 
better;  a  tin  of  sardines  -  -  a  box  of  captain's 
biscuits,  nearly  full  -  -  and  a  German  sausage 
encased  in  silver  paper. 

'There's  a  banquet  for  you!"  observed  the 
Rat,  as  he  arranged  the  table.  ''I  know  some 
animals  who  would  give  their  ears  to  be  sitting 
down  to  supper  with  us  to-night!" 

"No  bread!"  groaned  the  Mole  dolorously; 
"no  butter,  no- 

:<No  pate  de  foie  gras,  no  champagne!"  con- 
tinued the  Rat,  grinning.  "And  that  reminds 
me  -  -  what 's  that  little  door  at  the  end  of  the 
passage?  Your  cellar,  of  course!  Every  luxury 
in  this  house!  Just  you  wait  a  minute." 

He  made  for  the  cellar-door,  and  presently 
reappeared,  somewhat  dusty,  with  a  bottle  of 
beer  in  each  paw  and  another  under  each  arm, 
"Self-indulgent  beggar  you  seem  to  be,  Mole," 
he  observed.  "Deny  yourself  nothing.  This 
is  really  the  jolliest  little  place  I  ever  was  in. 
Now,  wherever  did  you  pick  up  those  prints? 
Make  the  place  look  so  home-like,  they  do.  No 
wonder  you  're  so  fond  of  it,  Mole.  Tell  us 

126 


DULCE   DOMUM 

all   about   it,  and  how  you  came  to  make  it 
what  it  is." 

Then,  while  the  Rat  busied  himself  fetching 
plates,  and  knives  and  forks,  and  mustard  which 
he  mixed  in  an  egg-cup,  the  Mole,  his  bosom 
still  heaving  with  the  stress  of  his  recent  emo- 
tion, related  —  somewhat  shyly  at  first,  but 
with  more  freedom  as  he  warmed  to  his  subject 
—  how  this  was  planned,  and  how  that  was 
thought  out,  and  how  this  was  got  through  a 
windfall  from  an  aunt,  and  that  was  a  wonder- 
ful find  and  a  bargain,  and  this  other  thing 
was  bought  out  of  laborious  savings  and  a  cer- 
tain amount  of  "going  without."  His  spirits 
finally  quite  restored,  he  must  needs  go  and 
caress  his  possessions,  and  take  a  lamp  and 
show  off  their  points  to  his  visitor  and  expa- 
tiate on  them,  quite  forgetful  of  the  supper  they 
both  so  much  needed;  Rat,  who  was  desperately 
hungry  but  strove  to  conceal  it,  nodding  se- 
riously, examining  with  a  puckered  brow,  and 
saying,  "wonderful,"  and  "most  remarkable," 
at  intervals,  when  the  chance  for  an  observation 
was  given  him. 

127 


THE    WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

At  last  the  Rat  succeeded  in  decoying  him 
to  the  table,  and  had  just  got  seriously  to  work 
with  the  sardine-opener  when  sounds  were  heard 
from  the  fore-court  without  -  -  sounds  like  the 
scuffling  of  small  feet  in  the  gravel  and  a  con- 
fused murmur  of  tiny  voices,  while  broken  sen- 
tences reached  them-  "Now,  all  in  a  line  - 
hold  the  lantern  up  a  bit,  Tommy  —  clear  your 
throats  first  —  no  coughing  after  I  say  one,  two, 
three.  -  -  Where  's  young  Bill?  —  Here,  come  on, 
do,  we  're  all  a-waiting  - 

"What's  up?"  inquired  the  Rat,  pausing  in 
his  labours. 

"I  think  it  must  be  the  field-mice,"  replied 
the  Mole,  with  a  touch  of  pride  in  his  manner. 
'They  go  round  carol-singing  regularly  at  this 
time  of  the  year.  They  're  quite  an  institution 
in  these  parts.  And  they  never  pass  me  over  - 
they  come  to  Mole  End  last  of  all;  and  I  used 
to  give  them  hot  drinks,  and  supper  too  some- 
times, when  I  could  afford  it.  It  will  be  like  old 
times  to  hear  them  again." 

"Let 's  have  a  look  at  them!"  cried  the  Rat, 
jumping  up  and  running  to  the  door. 

128 


DULCE   DOMUM 

It  was  a  pretty  sight,  and  a  seasonable  one, 
that  met  their  eyes  when  they  flung  the  door 
open.  In  the  fore-court,  lit  by  the  dim  rays  of 
a  horn  lantern,  some  eight  or  ten  little  field- 
mice  stood  in  a  semicircle,  red  worsted  com- 
forters round  their  throats,  their  fore-paws 
thrust  deep  into  their  pockets,  their  feet  jigging 
for  warmth.  With  bright  beady  eyes  they 
glanced  shyly  at  each  other,  sniggering  a  little, 
sniffing  and  applying  coat-sleeves  a  good  deal. 
As  the  door  opened,  one  of  the  elder  ones  that 
carried  the  lantern  was  just  saying,  "Now  then, 
one,  two,  three!"  and  forthwith  their  shrill  lit- 
tle voices  uprose  on  the  air,  singing  one  of  the 
old-time  carols  that  their  forefathers  composed 
in  fields  that  were  fallow  and  held  by  frost, 
or  when  snow-bound  in  chimney  corners,  and 
handed  down  to  be  sung  in  the  miry  street  to 
lamp-lit  windows  at  Yule-time. 

CAROL 

Villagers  all,  this  frosty  tide, 
Let  your  doors  swing  open  wide, 
Though  wind  may  follow,  and  snow  beside, 
129 


THE   WIND    IN   THE    WILLOWS 

Yet  draw  us  in  by  your  fire  to  bide; 
Joy  shall  be  yours  in  the  morning  I 

Here  we  stand  in  the  cold  and  the  sleet, 
Blowing  fingers  and  stamping  feet, 
Come  from  far  away  you  to  greet — 
You  by  the  fire  and  we  in  the  street — 
Bidding  you  joy  in  the  morning  ! 

For  ere  one  half  of  the  night  was  gone, 
Sudden  a  star  has  led  us  on, 
Raining  bliss  and  benison — 
Bliss  to-morrow  and  more  anon, 
Joy  for  every  morning  ! 

Goodman  Joseph  toiled  through  the  snow — 
Saw  the  star  o'er  a  stable  low; 
Mary  she  might  not  further  go — 
Welcome  thatch,  and  litter  below  I 
Joy  was  hers  in  the  morning  ! 

And  then  they  heard  the  angels  tell 
"Who  were  the  first  to  cry  Nowell? 
Animals  all,  as  it  befell, 
In  the  stable  where  they  did  dwell  I 

Joy  shall  be  theirs  in  the  morning  /" 

The  voices  ceased,  the  singers,  bashful  but 
smiling,  exchanged  sidelong  glances,  and  silence 

succeeded  —  but  for   a   moment   only.      Then, 

130 


DULCE   DOMUM 

from  up  above  and  far  away,  down  the  tunnel 
they  had  so  lately  travelled  was  borne  to  their 
ears  in  a  faint  musical  hum  the  sound  of  distant 
bells  ringing  a  joyful  and  clangorous  peal. 

"Very  well  sung,  boys!"  cried  the  Rat  heart- 
ily. "And  now  come  along  in,  all  of  you,  and 
warm  yourselves  by  the  fire,  and  have  some- 
thing hot!" 

"Yes,  come  along,  field-mice,"  cried  the  Mole 
eagerly.  "This  is  quite  like  old  times!  Shut 
the  door  after  you.  Pull  up  that  settle  to  the 
fire.  Now,  you  just  wait  a  minute,  while  we  — 
O,  Ratty!"  he  cried  in  despair,  plumping  down 
on  a  seat,  with  tears  impending.  'Whatever 
are  we  doing?  We  've  nothing  to  give  them!" 

"You  leave  all  that  to  me,"  said  the  master- 
ful Rat.  "Here,  you  with  the  lantern!  Come 
over  this  way.  I  want  to  talk  to  you.  Now, 
tell  me,  are  there  any  shops  open  at  this  hour 
of  the  night?" 

"Why,  certainly,  sir,"  replied  the  field-mouse 
respectfully.  "At  this  time  of  the  year  our 
shops  keep  open  to  all  sorts  of  hours." 

"Then  look  here!"  said  the  Rat.     "You  go 

131 


THE   WIND    IN    THE   WILLOWS 

off  at  once,  you  and  your  lantern,  and  you  get 


me- 


Here  much  muttered  conversation  ensued, 
and  the  Mole  only  heard  bits  of  it,  such  as  - 
'  Fresh,  mind !  -  -  no,  a  pound  of  that  will  do  - 
see  you  get  Buggins's,  for  I  won't  have  any 
other  -  -  no,  only  the  best  —  if  you  can't  get  it 
there,  try  somewhere  else  -  -  yes,  of  course,  home- 
made, no  tinned  stuff  —  well  then,  do  the  best 
you  can!"  Finally,  there  was  a  chink  of  coin 
passing  from  paw  to  paw,  the  field-mouse  was 
provided  with  an  ample  basket  for  his  purchases, 
and  off  he  hurried,  he  and  his  lantern. 

The  rest  of  the  field-mice,  perched  in  a  row 
on  the  settle,  their  small  legs  swinging,  gave 
themselves  up  to  enjoyment  of  the  fire,  and 
toasted  their  chilblains  till  they  tingled;  while 
the  Mole,  failing  to  draw  them  into  easy  conver- 
sation, plunged  into  family  history  and  made 
each  of  them  recite  the  names  of  his  numerous 
brothers,  who  were  too  young,  it  appeared,  to 
be  allowed  to  go  out  a-carolling  this  year,  but 
looked  forward  very  shortly  to  winning  the 
parental  consent. 

132 


DULCE    DOMUM 

The  Rat,  meanwhile,  was  busy  examining  the 
label  on  one  of  the  beer-bottles.  "I  perceive 
this  to  be  Old  Burton,"  he  remarked  approv- 
ingly. ''Sensible  Mole!  The  very  thing!  Now 
we  shall  be  able  to  mull  some  ale!  Get  the 
things  ready,  Mole,  while  I  draw  the  corks." 

It  did  not  take  long  to  prepare  the  brew  and 
thrust  the  tin  heater  well  into  the  red  heart 
of  the  fire;  and  soon  every  field-mouse  was 
sipping  and  coughing  and  choking  (for  a  little 
mulled  ale  goes  a  long  way)  and  wiping  his  eyes 
and  laughing  and  forgetting  he  had  ever  been 
cold  in  all  his  life. 

"They  act  plays,  too,  these  fellows,"  the  Mole 
explained  to  the  Rat.  ''Make  them  up  all  by 
themselves,  and  act  them  afterwards.  And  very 
well  they  do  it,  too!  They  gave  us  a  capital 
one  last  year,  about  a  field-mouse  who  was  cap- 
tured at  sea  by  a  Barbary  corsair,  and  made  to 
row  in  a  galley;  and  when  he  escaped  and  got 
home  again,  his  lady-love  had  gone  into  a  con- 
vent. Here,  you  !  You  were  in  it,  I  remember. 
Get  up  and  recite  a  bit." 

The  field-mouse  addressed  got  up  on  his  legs, 

133 


THE   AVIND    IN    THE   WILLOWS 

giggled  shyly,  looked  round  the  room,  and  re- 
mained absolutely  tongue-tied.  His  comrades 
cheered  him  on,  Mole  coaxed  and  encouraged 
him,  and  the  Rat  went  so  far  as  to  take  him  by 
the  shoulders  and  shake  him;  but  nothing  could 
overcome  his  stage-fright.  They  were  all  busily 
engaged  on  him  like  watermen  applying  the 
Royal  Humane  Society's  regulations  to  a  case 
of  long  submersion,  when  the  latch  clicked,  the 
door  opened,  and  the  field-mouse  with  the  lan- 
tern reappeared,  staggering  under  the  weight  of 
his  basket. 

There  was  no  more  talk  of  play-acting  once 
the  very  real  and  solid  contents  of  the  basket 
had  been  tumbled  out  on  the  table.  Under  the 
generalship  of  Rat,  everybody  was  set  to  do 
something  or  to  fetch  something.  In  a  very  few 
minutes  supper  was  ready,  and  Mole,  as  he  took 
the  head  of  the  table  in  a  sort  of  a  dream,  saw 
a  lately  barren  board  set  thick  with  savoury 
comforts;  saw  his  little  friends'  faces  brighten 
and  beam  as  they  fell  to  without  delay;  and 
then  let  himself  loose  —  for  he  was  famished 
indeed  —  on  the  provender  so  magically  pro- 

134 


DULCE   DOMUM 

vided,  thinking  what  a  happy  home-coming  this 
had  turned  out,  after  all.  As  they  ate,  they 
talked  of  old  times,  and  the  field-mice  gave  him 
the  local  gossip  up  to  date,  and  answered  as  well 
as  they  could  the  hundred  questions  he  had  to 
ask  them.  The  Rat  said  little  or  nothing,  only 
taking  care  that  each  guest  had  what  he  wanted, 
and  plenty  of  it,  and  that  Mole  had  no  trouble 
or  anxiety  about  anything. 

They  clattered  off  at  last,  very  grateful  and 
showering  wishes  of  the  season,  with  their  jacket 
pockets  stuffed  with  remembrances  for  the  small 
brothers  and  sisters  at  home.  When  the  door 
had  closed  on  the  last  of  them  and  the  chink 
of  the  lanterns  had  died  away,  Mole  and  Rat 
kicked  the  fire  up,  drew  their  chairs  in,  brewed 
themselves  a  last  nightcap  of  mulled  ale,  and 
discussed  the  events  of  the  long  day.  At  last 
the  Rat,  with  a  tremendous  yawn,  said,  "Mole, 
old  chap,  I  'm  ready  to  drop.  Sleepy  is  simply 
not  the  word.  That  your  own  bunk  over  on 
that  side?  Very  well,  then,  I  '11  take  this. 
What  a  ripping  little  house  this  is!  Everything 

so  handy!" 

135 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

He  clambered  into  his  bunk  and  rolled  him- 
self well  up  in  the  blankets,  and  slumber  gath- 
ered him  forthwith,  as  a  swathe  of  barley  is 
folded  into  the  arms  of  the  reaping  machine. 

The  weary  Mole  also  was  glad  to  turn  in 
without  delay,  and  soon  had  his  head  on  his 
pillow,  in  great  joy  and  contentment.  But  ere 
he  closed  his  eyes  he  let  them  wander  round  his 
old  room,  mellow  in  the  glow  of  the  firelight 
that  played  or  rested  on  familiar  and  friendly 
things  which  had  long  been  unconsciously  a 
part  of  him,  and  now  smilingly  received  him 
back,  without  rancour.  He  was  now  in  just 
the  frame  of  mind  that  the  tactful  Rat  had 
quietly  worked  to  bring  about  in  him.  He  saw 
clearly  how  plain  and  simple  —  how  narrow, 
even  —  it  all  was;  but  clearly,  too,  how  much 
it  all  meant  to  him,  and  the  special  value  of 
some  such  anchorage  in  one's  existence.  He  did 
not  at  all  want  to  abandon  the  new  life  and  its 
splendid  spaces,  to  turn  his  back  on  sun  and  air 
and  all  they  offered  him  and  creep  home  and 
stay  there;  the  upper  world  was  all  too  strong, 
it  called  to  him  still,  even  down  there,  and  he 

136 


DULCE   DOMUM 

knew  he  must  return  to  the  larger  stage.  But 
it  was  good  to  think  he  had  this  to  come  back 
to,  this  place  which  was  all  his  own,  these  things 
which  were  so  glad  to  see  him  again  and  could 
always  be  counted  upon  for  the  same  simple 
welcome. 


137 


VI 
MR.    TOAD 


VI 
MR.    TOAD 

IT  was  a  bright  morning  in  the  early  part  of 
summer;  the  river  had  resumed  its  wonted 
banks  and  its  accustomed  pace,  and  a  hot  sun 
seemed  to  be  pulling  everything  green  and 
bushy  and  spiky  up  out  of  the  earth  towards 
him,  as  if  by  strings.  The  Mole  and  the  Water 
Rat  had  been  up  since  dawn,  very  busy  on 
matters  connected  with  boats  and  the  opening 
of  the  boating  season;  painting  and  varnishing, 
mending  paddles,  repairing  cushions,  hunting 
for  missing  boat-hooks,  and  so  on;  and  were 
finishing  breakfast  in  their  little  parlour  and 
eagerly  discussing  their  plans  for  the  day,  when 
a  heavy  knock  sounded  at  the  door. 

"Bother!"  said  the  Rat,  all  over  egg.  "See 
who  it  is,  Mole,  like  a  good  chap,  since  you  've 
finished." 

141 


THE   WIND   IN   THE   WILLOWS 

The  Mole  went  to  attend  the  summons,  and 
the  Rat  heard  him  utter  a  cry  of  surprise. 
Then  he  flung  the  parlour  door  open,  and  an- 
nounced with  much  importance,  "Mr.  Badger!" 

This  was  a  wonderful  thing,  indeed,  that  the 
Badger  should  pay  a  formal  call  on  them,  or 
indeed  on  anybody.  He  generally  had  to  be 
caught,  if  you  wanted  him  badly,  as  he  slipped 
quietly  along  a  hedgerow  of  an  early  morning 
or  a  late  evening,  or  else  hunted  up  in  his  own 
house  in  the  middle  of  the  Wood,  which  was  a 
serious  undertaking. 

The  Badger  strode  heavily  into  the  room, 
and  stood  looking  at  the  two  animals  with  an 
expression  full  of  seriousness.  The  Rat  let  his 
egg-spoon  fall  on  the  table-cloth,  and  sat  open- 
mouthed. 

'The  hour  has  come!"  said  the  Badger  at 
last  with  great  solemnity. 

'What  hour?"  asked  the  Rat  uneasily,  glanc- 
ing at  the  clock  on  the  mantelpiece. 

'Whose  hour,  you  should  rather  say,"  replied 
the  Badger.  "Why,  Toad's  hour!  The  hour 
of  Toad!  I  said  I  would  take  him  in  hand  as 

142 


MR.    TOAD 

soon  as  the  winter  was  well  over,  and  I  'm  going 
to  take  him  in  hand  to-day!" 

'Toad's  hour,  of  course!"  cried  the  Mole  de- 
lightedly. "Hooray!  I  remember  now!  We'll 
teach  him  to  be  a  sensible  Toad!" 

'This  very  morning,"  continued  the  Badger, 
taking  an  arm-chair,  "as  I  learnt  last  night 
from  a  trustworthy  source,  another  new  and 
exceptionally  powerful  motor-car  will  arrive  at 
Toad  Hall  on  approval  or  return.  At  this  very 
moment,  perhaps,  Toad  is  busy  arraying  him- 
self in  those  singularly  hideous  habiliments  so 
dear  to  him,  which  transform  him  from  a  (com- 
paratively) good-looking  Toad  into  an  Object 
which  throws  any  decent-minded  animal  that 
comes  across  it  into  a  violent  fit.  We  must  be 
up  and  doing,  ere  it  is  too  late.  You  two  ani- 
mals will  accompany  me  instantly  to  Toad  Hall, 
and  the  work  of  rescue  shall  be  accomplished." 

"Right  you  are!"  cried  the  Rat,  starting  up. 

'  We  '11  rescue  the  poor  unhappy  animal !    We  '11 

convert   him!     He  '11   be   the   most   converted 

Toad  that  ever  was  before  we  've  done  with 

him!" 

143 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

They  set  off  up  the  road  on  their  mission  of 
mercy,  Badger  leading  the  way.  Animals  when 
in  company  walk  in  a  proper  and  sensible 
manner,  in  single  file,  instead  of  sprawling  all 
across  the  road  and  being  of  no  use  or  support 
to  each  other  in  case  of  sudden  trouble  or 
danger. 

They  reached  the  carriage-drive  of  Toad  Hall 
to  find,  as  Badger  had  anticipated,  a  shiny  new 
motor-car,  of  great  size,  painted  a  bright  red 
(Toad's  favourite  colour),  standing  in  front  of 
the  house.  As  they  neared  the  door  it  was 
flung  open,  and  Mr.  Toad,  arrayed  in  goggles, 
cap,  gaiters,  and  enormous  overcoat,  came  swag- 
gering down  the  steps,  drawing  on  his  gaunt- 
leted  gloves. 

'Hullo!  come  on,  you  fellows!"  he  cried 
cheerfully  on  catching  sight  of  them.  'You  're 
just  in  time  to  come  with  me  for  a  jolly  —  to 
come  for  a  jolly-  -for  a  —  er  —  jolly — " 

His  hearty  accents  faltered  and  fell  away  as 
he  noticed  the  stern  unbending  look  on  the 
countenances  of  his  silent  friends,  and  his  invi- 
tation remained  unfinished. 

144 


MR.    TOAD 

The  Badger  strode  up  the  steps.  'Take  him 
inside,"  he  said  sternly  to  his  companions. 
Then,  as  Toad  was  hustled  through  the  door, 
struggling  and  protesting,  he  turned  to  the 
chauffeur  in  charge  of  the  new  motor-car. 

"I  'm  afraid  you  won't  be  wanted  to-day,"  he 
said.  "Mr.  Toad  has  changed  his  mind.  He 
will  not  require  the  car.  Please  understand 
that  this  is  final.  You  needn't  wait. "  Then  he 
followed  the  others  inside  and  shut  the  door. 

"Now  then!"  he  said  to  the  Toad,  when  the 
four  of  them  stood  together  in  the  Hall,  "first 
of  all,  take  those  ridiculous  things  off!" 

"Shan't!'  replied  Toad,  with  great  spirit. 
"What  is  the  meaning  of  this  gross  outrage? 
I  demand  an  instant  explanation." 

"Take  them  off  him,  then,  you  two,"  ordered 
the  Badger  briefly. 

They  had  to  lay  Toad  out  on  the  floor,  kick- 
ing and  calling  all  sorts  of  names,  before  they 
could  get  to  work  properly.  Then  the  Rat  sat 
on  him,  and  the  Mole  got  his  motor-clothes  off 
him  bit  by  bit,  and  they  stood  him  up  on  his 
legs  again.  A  good  deal  of  his  blustering  spirit 

145 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

seemed  to  have  evaporated  with  the  removal  of 
his  fine  panoply.  Now  that  he  was  merely 
Toad,  and  no  longer  the  Terror  of  the  Highway, 
he  giggled  feebly  and  looked  from  one  to  the 
other  appealingly,  seeming  quite  to  understand 
the  situation. 

'You  knew  it  must  come  to  this,  sooner  or 
later,  Toad,"  the  Badger  explained  severely. 
You  've  disregarded  all  the  warnings  we  've 
given  you,  you  've  gone  on  squandering  the 
money  your  father  left  you,  and  you  're  getting 
us  animals  a  bad  name  in  the  district  by  your 
furious  driving  and  your  smashes  and  your  rows 
with  the  police.  Independence  is  all  very  well, 
but  we  animals  never  allow  our  friends  to  make 
fools  of  themselves  beyond  a  certain  limit;  and 
that  limit  you  've  reached.  Now,  you  're  a  good 
fellow  in  many  respects,  and  I  don't  want  to  be 
too  hard  on  you.  I  '11  make  one  more  effort  to 
bring  you  to  reason.  You  will  come  with  me 
into  the  smoking-room,  and  there  you  will  hear 
some  facts  about  yourself;  and  we  '11  see  whether 
you  come  out  of  that  room  the  same  Toad  that 
you  went  in." 

146 


MR.    TOAD 

He  took  Toad  firmly  by  the  arm,  led  him 
into  the  smoking-room,  and  closed  the  door  be- 
hind them. 

'That  's  no  good!"  said  the  Rat  contemptu- 
ously. '  Talking  to  Toad  '11  never  cure  him. 
He  '11  say  anything." 

They  made  themselves  comfortable  in  arm- 
chairs and  waited  patiently.  Through  the  closed 
door  they  could  just  hear  the  long  continuous 
drone  of  the  Badger's  voice,  rising  and  falling 
in  waves  of  oratory;  and  presently  they  noticed 
that  the  sermon  began  to  be  punctuated  at 
intervals  by  long-drawn  sobs,  evidently  pro- 
ceeding from  the  bosom  of  Toad,  who  was  a 
soft-hearted  and  affectionate  fellow,  very  easily 
converted  —  for  the  time  being  —  to  any  point 
of  view. 

After  some  three-quarters  of  an  hour  the 
door  opened,  and  the  Badger  reappeared,  sol- 
emnly leading  by  the  paw  a  very  limp  and  de- 
jected Toad.  His  skin  hung  baggily  about  him, 
his  legs  wobbled,  and  his  cheeks  were  furrowed 
by  the  tears  so  plentifully  called  forth  by  the 
Badger's  moving  discourse. 

147 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 


<<  i 


:Sit  down  there,  Toad,"  said  the  Badger 
kindly,  pointing  to  a  chair.  :'My  friends,"  he 
went  on,  'I  am  pleased  to  inform  you  that 
Toad  has  at  last  seen  the  error  of  his  ways.  He 
is  truly  sorry  for  his  misguided  conduct  in  the 
past,  and  he  has  undertaken  to  give  up  motor- 
cars entirely  and  for  ever.  I  have  his  solemn 
promise  to  that  effect." 

'That  is  very  good  news,"  said  the  Mole 
gravely. 

'Very  good  news  indeed,"  observed  the  Rat 
dubiously,  "if  only  —  if  only  - 

He  was  looking  very  hard  at  Toad  as  he  said 
this,  and  could  not  help  thinking  he  perceived 
something  vaguely  resembling  a  twinkle  in  that 
animal's  still  sorrowful  eye. 

'There  's  only  one  thing  more  to  be  done," 
continued  the  gratified  Badger.  'Toad,  I  want 
you  solemnly  to  repeat,  before  your  friends  here, 
what  you  fully  admitted  to  me  in  the  smoking- 
room  just  now.  First,  you  are  sorry  for  what 
you  've  done,  and  you  see  the  folly  of  it  all?" 

There  was  a  long,  long  pause.  Toad  looked 
desperately  this  way  and  that,  while  the  other 

148 


MR.    TOAD 

animals  waited  in  grave  silence.     At  last  he 
spoke. 

"No!"  he  said,  a  little  sullenly,  but  stoutly; 
"I  'm  not  sorry.  And  it  wasn't  folly  at  all!  It 
was  simply  glorious!" 

"What?"  cried  the  Badger,  greatly  scandal- 
ised. 'You  backsliding  animal,  didn't  you  tell 
me  just  now,  in  there — " 

"Oh,  yes,  yes,  in  there"  said  Toad  impa- 
tiently. "I'd  have  said  anything  in  there. 
You  're  so  eloquent,  dear  Badger,  and  so  mov- 
ing, and  so  convincing,  and  put  all  your  points 
so  frightfully  well  —  you  can  do  what  you  like 
with  me  in  there,  and  you  know  it.  But  I  've 
been  searching  my  mind  since,  and  going  over 
things  in  it,  and  I  find  that  I  'm  not  a  bit  sorry 
or  repentant  really,  so  it 's  no  earthly  good 
saying  I  am;  now,  is  it?" 

"Then  you  don't  promise,"  said  the  Badger, 
"never  to  touch  a  motor-car  again?" 

"Certainly  not!"  replied  Toad  emphatically. 
"On  the  contrary,  I  faithfully  promise  that  the 
very  first  motor-car  I  see,  poop-poop!  off  I  go 
in  it!" 

149 


THE    WIND    IN    THE   WILLOWS 

"Told  you  so,  didn't  I?"  observed  the  Rat  to 
the  Mole. 

"Very  well,  then,"  said  the  Badger  firmly, 
rising  to  his  feet.  "Since  you  won't  yield  to 
persuasion,  we  '11  try  what  force  can  do.  I 
feared  it  would  come  to  this  all  along.  You  've 
often  asked  us  three  to  come  and  stay  with  you, 
Toad,  in  this  handsome  house  of  yours;  well, 
now  we  're  going  to.  When  we  've  converted 
you  to  a  proper  point  of  view  we  may  quit,  but 
not  before.  Take  him  upstairs,  you  two,  and 
lock  him  up  in  his  bedroom,  while  we  arrange 
matters  between  ourselves." 

"It 's  for  your  own  good,  Toady,  you  know," 
said  the  Rat  kindly,  as  Toad,  kicking  and 
struggling,  was  hauled  up  the  stairs  by  his  two 
faithful  friends.  'Think  what  fun  we  shall  all 
have  together,  just  as  we  used  to,  when  you  Ve 
quite  got  over  this  —  this  painful  attack  of 
yours!" 

'We  '11  take  great  care  of  everything  for  you 
till  you  're  well,  Toad,"  said  the  Mole;  "and 
we  '11  see  your  money  isn't  wasted,  as  it  has 

been." 

150 


MR.    TOAD 

"No  more  of  those  regrettable  incidents  with 
the  police,  Toad,"  said  the  Rat,  as  they  thrust 
him  into  his  bedroom. 

"And  no  more  weeks  in  hospital,  being  or- 
dered about  by  female  nurses,  Toad,"  added  the 
Mole,  turning  the  key  on  him. 

They  descended  the  stair,  Toad  shouting 
abuse  at  them  through  the  keyhole;  and  the 
three  friends  then  met  in  conference  on  the 
situation. 

"It 's  going  to  be  a  tedious  business,"  said  the 
Badger,  sighing.  "I  've  never  seen  Toad  so 
determined.  However,  we  will  see  it  out.  He 
must  never  be  left  an  instant  unguarded.  We 
shall  have  to  take  it  in  turns  to  be  with  him, 
till  the  poison  has  worked  itself  out  of  his 
system." 

They  arranged  watches  accordingly.  Each 
animal  took  it  in  turns  to  sleep  in  Toad's  room 
at  night,  and  they  divided  the  day  up  between 
them.  At  first  Toad  was  undoubtedly  very 
trying  to  his  careful  guardians.  When  his  vio- 
lent paroxysms  possessed  him  he  would  arrange 
bedroom  chairs  in  rude  resemblance  of  a  motor- 

151 


THE   WIND   IN   THE   WILLOWS 

car  and  would  crouch  on  the  foremost  of  them, 
bent  forward  and  staring  fixedly  ahead,  making 
uncouth  and  ghastly  noises,  till  the  climax  was 
reached,  when,  turning  a  complete  somersault, 
he  would  lie  prostrate  amidst  the  ruins  of  the 
chairs,  apparently  completely  satisfied  for  the 
moment.  As  time  passed,  however,  these  pain- 
ful seizures  grew  gradually  less  frequent,  and 
his  friends  strove  to  divert  his  mind  into  fresh 
channels.  But  his  interest  in  other  matters  did 
not  seem  to  revive,  and  he  grew  apparently 
languid  and  depressed. 

One  fine  morning  the  Rat,  whose  turn  it  was 
to  go  on  duty,  went  upstairs  to  relieve  Badger, 
whom  he  found  fidgeting  to  be  off  and  stretch 
his  legs  in  a  long  ramble  round  his  wood  and 
dowrn  his  earths  and  burro ws.  'Toad  's  still  in 
bed,"  he  told  the  Rat,  outside  the  door.  :<  Can't 
get  much  out  of  him,  except,  '0  leave  him 
alone,  he  wants  nothing,  perhaps  he  '11  be  better 
presently,  it  may  pass  off  in  time,  don't  be 
unduly  anxious,'  and  so  on.  Now,  you  look 
out,  Rat!  When  Toad  's  quiet  and  submissive, 
and  playing  at  being  the  hero  of  a  Sunday- 

152 


MR.    TOAD 

school  prize,  then  he  's  at  his  artfullest.  There  's 
sure  to  be  something  up.  I  know  him.  Well, 
now,  I  must  be  off." 

"How  are  you  to-day,  old  chap?"  inquired 
the  Rat  cheerfully,  as  he  approached  Toad  's 
bedside. 

He  had  to  wait  some  minutes  for  an  answer. 
At  last  a  feeble  voice  replied,  'Thank  you  so 
much,  dear  Ratty !  So  good  of  you  to  inquire ! 
But  first  tell  me  how  you  are  yourself,  and  the 
excellent  Mole?" 

" O,  we  're  all  right,"  replied  the  Rat.  "Mole," 
he  added  incautiously,  "is  going  out  for  a  run 
round  with  Badger.  They  '11  be  out  till  luncheon 
time,  so  you  and  I  will  spend  a  pleasant  morn- 
ing together,  and  I  '11  do  my  best  to  amuse  you. 
Now  jump  up,  there  's  a  good  fellow,  and  don't 
lie  moping  there  on  a  fine  morning  like  this!" 

"Dear,  kind  Rat,"  murmured  Toad,  "how 
little  you  realise  my  condition,  and  how  very 
far  I  am  from  'jumping  up'  now-  -if  ever! 
But  do  not  trouble  about  me.  I  hate  being  a 
burden  to  my  friends,  and  I  do  not  expect  to  be 
one  much  longer.  Indeed,  I  almost  hope  not." 

153 


THE    WIND    IN   THE    WILLOWS 

"Well,  I  hope  not,  too,"  said  the  Rat  heartily. 
"You  've  been  a  fine  bother  to  us  all  this  time, 
and  I  'm  glad  to  hear  it 's  going  to  stop.  And 
in  weather  like  this,  and  the  boating  season 
just  beginning!  It's  too  bad  of  you,  Toad! 
It  isn't  the  trouble  we  mind,  but  you  're  making 
us  miss  such  an  awful  lot." 

'I  'm  afraid  it  is  the  trouble  you  mind, 
though,"  replied  the  Toad  languidly.  'I  can 
quite  understand  it.  It 's  natural  enough. 
You  're  tired  of  bothering  about  me.  I  mustn't 
ask  you  to  do  anything  further.  I  'm  a  nui- 
sance, I  know." 

'You  are,  indeed,"  said  the  Rat.  "But  I 
tell  you,  I  'd  take  any  trouble  on  earth  for  you, 
if  only  you  'd  be  a  sensible  animal." 

"If  I  thought  that,  Ratty,"  murmured  Toad, 
more  feebly  than  ever,  "then  I  would  beg  you 
-  for  the  last  time,  probably  -  -  to  step  round 
to  the  village  as  quickly  as  possible  —  even  now 
it  may  be  too  late  -  -  and  fetch  the  doctor.  But 
don't  you  bother.  It 's  only  a  trouble,  and  per- 
haps we  may  as  well  let  things  take  their  course." 

'Why,  what  do  you  want  a  doctor  for?" 

154 


MR.    TOAD 

inquired  the  Rat,  coming  closer  and  examining 
him.  He  certainly  lay  very  still  and  flat,  and  his 
voice  was  weaker  and  his  manner  much  changed. 

"Surely  you  have  noticed  of  late —  '  mur- 
mured Toad.  'But,  no  —  why  should  you? 
Noticing  things  is  only  a  trouble.  To-morrow, 
indeed,  you  may  be  saying  to  yourself,  'O,  if 
only  I  had  noticed  sooner!  If  only  I  had  done 
something!'  But  no;  it's  a  trouble.  Never 
mind  -  -  forget  that  I  asked." 

"Look  here,  old  man,"  said  the  Rat,  begin- 
ning to  get  rather  alarmed,  "of  course  I  '11  fetch 
a  doctor  to  you,  if  you  really  think  you  want 
him.  But  you  can  hardly  be  bad  enough  for 
that  yet.  Let 's  talk  about  something  else." 

"I  fear,  dear  friend,"  said  Toad,  with  a 
sad  smile,  'that  'talk'  can  do  little  in  a  case 
like  this  —  or  doctors  either,  for  that  matter; 
still,  one  must  grasp  at  the  slightest  straw.  And, 
by  the  way  —  while  you  are  about  it  —  I  hate 
to  give  you  additional  trouble,  but  I  happen  to 
remember  that  you  will  pass  the  door  —  would 
you  mind  at  the  same  time  asking  the  lawyer 
to  step  up?  It  would  be  a  convenience  to  me, 

155 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

and  there  are  moments  -  -  perhaps  I  should  say 
there  is  a  moment  -  -  when  one  must  face  dis- 
agreeable tasks,  at  whatever  cost  to  exhausted 
nature!" 

"A  lawyer!  O,  he  must  be  really  bad!"  the 
affrighted  Rat  said  to  himself,  as  he  hurried 
from  the  room,  not  forgetting,  however,  to  lock 
the  door  carefully  behind  him. 

Outside,  he  stopped  to  consider.  The  other 
two  were  far  away,  and  he  had  no  one  to  consult. 
'It 's  best  to  be  on  the  safe  side,"  he  said,  on 
reflection.  "I  've  known  Toad  fancy  himself 
frightfully  bad  before,  without  the  slightest  rea- 
son; but  I  've  never  heard  him  ask  for  a  lawyer! 
If  there  's  nothing  really  the  matter,  the  doctor 
will  tell  him  he  's  an  old  ass,  and  cheer  him  up; 
and  that  will  be  something  gained.  I  'd  better 
humour  him  and  go;  it  won't  take  very  long."  So 
he  ran  off  to  the  village  on  his  errand  of  mercy. 

The  Toad,  who  had  hopped  lightly  out  of 
bed  as  soon  as  he  heard  the  key  turned  in  the 
lock,  watched  him  eagerly  from  the  window  till 
he  disappeared  down  the  carriage-drive.  Then, 
laughing  heartily,  he  dressed  as  quickly  as  pos- 

156 


MR.    TOAD 

sible  in  the  smartest  suit  he  could  lay  hands  on 
at  the  moment,  filled  his  pockets  with  cash 
which  he  took  from  a  small  drawer  in  the 
dressing-table,  and  next,  knotting  the  sheets 
from  his  bed  together  and  tying  one  end  of  the 
improvised  rope  round  the  central  mullion  of 
the  handsome  Tudor  window  which  formed  such 
a  feature  of  his  bedroom,  he  scrambled  out,  slid 
lightly  to  the  ground,  and,  taking  the  oppo- 
site direction  to  the  Rat,  marched  off  light- 
heartedly,  whistling  a  merry  tune. 

It  was  a  gloomy  luncheon  for  Rat  when  the 
Badger  and  the  Mole  at  length  returned,  and 
he  had  to  face  them  at  table  with  his  pitiful  and 
unconvincing  story.  The  Badger's  caustic,  not 
to  say  brutal,  remarks  may  be  imagined,  and 
therefore  passed  over;  but  it  was  painful  to 
the  Rat  that  even  the  Mole,  though  he  took  his 
friend's  side  as  far  as  possible,  could  not  help 
saying,  '  You  ' ve  been  a  bit  of  a  duffer  this 
time,  Ratty!  Toad,  too,  of  all  animals!" 

"He  did  it  awfully  well,"  said  the  crestfallen 
Rat. 

"He  did  you  awfully  well!"  rejoined  the 

157 


THE   WIND    IN    THE   WILLOWS 

Badger  hotly.  'However,  talking  won't  mend 
matters.  He  's  got  clear  away  for  the  time, 
that 's  certain;  and  the  worst  of  it  is,  he  '11  be 
so  conceited  with  what  he  '11  think  is  his  clever- 
ness that  he  may  commit  any  folly.  One  com- 
fort is,  we  're  free  now,  and  needn't  waste  any 
more  of  our  precious  time  doing  sentry-go.  But 
we  'd  better  continue  to  sleep  at  Toad  Hall  for 
a  while  longer.  Toad  may  be  brought  back  at 
any  moment  —  on  a  stretcher,  or  between  two 
policemen." 

So  spoke  the  Badger,  not  knowing  what  the 
future  held  in  store,  or  how  much  water,  and 
of  how  turbid  a  character,  was  to  run  under 
bridges  before  Toad  should  sit  at  ease  again  in 
his  ancestral  Hall. 

Meanwhile,  Toad,  gay  and  irresponsible,  was 
walking  briskly  along  the  high  road,  some  miles 
from  home.  At  first  he  had  taken  by-paths, 
and  crossed  many  fields,  and  changed  his  course 
several  times,  in  case  of  pursuit;  but  now,  feel- 
ing by  this  time  safe  from  recapture,  and  the 
sun  smiling  brightly  on  him,  and  all  Nature 

158 


MR.    TOAD 

joining  in  a  chorus  of  approval  to  the  song  of 
self-praise  that  his  own  heart  was  singing  to 
him,  he  almost  danced  along  the  road  in  his 
satisfaction  and  conceit. 

"Smart  piece  of  work  that!"  he  remarked  to 
himself  chuckling.  :' Brain  against  brute  force 
—  and  brain  came  out  on  the  top  —  as  it 's 
bound  to  do.  Poor  old  Ratty!  My!  won't  he 
catch  it  when  the  Badger  gets  back!  A  worthy 
fellow,  Ratty,  with  many  good  qualities,  but 
very  little  intelligence  and  absolutely  no  educa- 
tion. I  must  take  him  in  hand  some  day,  and 
see  if  I  can  make  something  of  him." 

Filled  full  of  conceited  thoughts  such  as  these 
he  strode  along,  his  head  in  the  air,  till  he 
reached  a  little  town,  where  the  sign  of  'The 
Red  Lion,"  swinging  across  the  road  half-way 
down  the  main  street,  reminded  him  that  he 
had  not  breakfasted  that  day,  and  that  he  was 
exceedingly  hungry  after  his  long  walk.  He 
marched  into  the  Inn,  ordered  the  best  lunch- 
eon that  could  be  provided  at  so  short  a  notice, 
and  sat  down  to  eat  it  in  the  coffee-room. 

He  was  about  half-way  through  his  meal  when 

159 


THE   WIND   IN   THE   WILLOWS 

an  only  too  familiar  sound,  approaching  down 
the  street,  made  him  start  and  fall  a-trembling 
all  over.  The  poop-poop!  drew  nearer  and 
nearer,  the  car  could  be  heard  to  turn  into  the 
inn-yard  and  come  to  a  stop,  and  Toad  had  to 
hold  on  to  the  leg  of  the  table  to  conceal  his 
over-mastering  emotion.  Presently  the  party 
entered  the  coffee-room,  hungry,  talkative,  and 
gay,  voluble  on  their  experiences  of  the  morning 
and  the  merits  of  the  chariot  that  had  brought 
them  along  so  well.  Toad  listened  eagerly,  all 
ears,  for  a  time;  at  last  he  could  stand  it  no 
longer.  He  slipped  out  of  the  room  quietly, 
paid  his  bill  at  the  bar,  and  as  soon  as  he  got 
outside  sauntered  round  quietly  to  the  inn-yard. 
'There  cannot  be  any  harm,"  he  said  to  him- 
self, "in  my  only  just  looking  at  it!" 

The  car  stood  in  the  middle  of  the  yard, 
quite  unattended,  the  stable-helps  and  other 
hangers-on  being  all  at  their  dinner.  Toad 
walked  slowly  round  it,  inspecting,  criticising, 
musing  deeply. 

"I  wonder,"  he  said  to  himself  presently,  "I 
wonder  if  this  sort  of  car  starts  easily?" 

160 


MR.    TOAD 

Next  moment,  hardly  knowing  how  it  came 
about,  he  found  he  had  hold  of  the  handle  and 
was  turning  it.  As  the  familiar  sound  broke 
forth,  the  old  passion  seized  on  Toad  and  com- 
pletely mastered  him,  body  and  soul.  As  if  in 
a  dream  he  found  himself,  somehow,  seated  in 
the  driver's  seat;  as  if  in  a  dream,  he  pulled  the 
lever  and  swung  the  car  round  the  yard  and 
out  through  the  archway;  and,  as  if  in  a  dream, 
all  sense  of  right  and  wrong,  all  fear  of  obvious 
consequences,  seemed  temporarily  suspended. 
He  increased  his  pace,  and  as  the  car  devoured 
the  street  and  leapt  forth  on  the  high  road 
through  the  open  country,  he  was  only  con- 
scious that  he  was  Toad  once  more,  Toad  at 
his  best  and  highest,  Toad  the  terror,  the  traffic- 
queller,  the  Lord  of  the  lone  trail,  before  whom 
all  must  give  way  or  be  smitten  into  nothingness 
and  everlasting  night.  He  chanted  as  he  flew, 
and  the  car  responded  with  sonorous  drone;  the 
miles  were  eaten  up  under  him  as  he  sped  he 
knew  not  whither,  fulfilling  his  instincts,  living 
his  hour,  reckless  of  what  might  come  to  him. 


161 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

'To  my  mind,"  observed  the  Chairman  of 
the  Bench  of  Magistrates  cheerfully,  "the  only 
difficulty  that  presents  itself  in  this  otherwise 
very  clear  case  is,  how  we  can  possibly  make 
it  sufficiently  hot  for  the  incorrigible  rogue  and 
hardened  ruffian  whom  we  see  cowering  in  the 
dock  before  us.  Let  me  see:  he  has  been  found 
guilty,  on  the  clearest  evidence,  first,  of  stealing 
a  valuable  motor-car;  secondly,  of  driving  to 
the  public  danger;  and,  thirdly,  of  gross  imper- 
tinence to  the  rural  police.  Mr.  Clerk,  will  you 
tell  us,  please,  what  is  the  very  stiffest  penalty 
we  can  impose  for  each  of  these  offences?  With- 
out, of  course,  giving  the  prisoner  the  benefit  of 
any  doubt,  because  there  isn't  any." 

The  Clerk  scratched  his  nose  with  his  pen. 
"Some  people  would  consider,"  he  observed, 
'that  stealing  the  motor-car  was  the  worst 
offence;  and  so  it  is.  But  cheeking  the  police 
undoubtedly  carries  the  severest  penalty;  and 
so  it  ought.  Supposing  you  were  to  say  twelve 
months  for  the  theft,  which  is  mild;  and  three 
years  for  the  furious  driving,  which  is  lenient; 
and  fifteen  years  for  the  cheek,  which  was  pretty 

162 


MR.    TOAD 

bad  sort  of  cheek,  judging  by  what  we  Ve 
heard  from  the  witness-box,  even  if  you  only 
believe  one-tenth  part  of  what  you  heard,  and 
I  never  believe  more  myself  —  those  figures, 
if  added  together  correctly,  tot  up  to  nineteen 
years — " 

"First-rate!"    said  the  Chairman. 

" —  So  you  had  better  make  it  a  round 
twenty  years  and  be  on  the  safe  side,"  concluded 
the  Clerk. 

"An  excellent  suggestion!"  said  the  Chair- 
man approvingly.  "Prisoner!  Pull  yourself  to- 
gether and  try  and  stand  up  straight.  It 's 
going  to  be  twenty  years  for  you  this  time. 
And  mind,  if  you  appear  before  us  again,  upon 
any  charge  whatever,  we  shall  have  to  deal 
with  you  very  seriously!" 

Then  the  brutal  minions  of  the  law  fell  upon 
the  hapless  Toad;  loaded  him  with  chains,  and 
dragged  him  from  the  Court  House,  shrieking, 
praying,  protesting;  across  the  market-place, 
where  the  playful  populace,  always  as  severe 
upon  detected  crime  as  they  are  sympathetic 
and  helpful  when  one  is  merely  :<  wanted," 

163 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

assailed  him  with  jeers,  carrots,  and  popular 
catch-words;  past  hooting  school  children,  their 
innocent  faces  lit  up  with  the  pleasure  they  ever 
derive  from  the  sight  of  a  gentleman  in  diffi- 
culties; across  the  hollow-sounding  drawbridge, 
below  the  spiky  portcullis,  under  the  frowning 
archway  of  the  grim  old  castle,  whose  ancient 
towers  soared  high  overhead;  past  guardrooms 
full  of  grinning  soldiery  off  duty,  past  sentries 
who  coughed  in  a  horrid,  sarcastic  way,  because 
that  is  as  much  as  a  sentry  on  his  post  dare  do 
to  show  his  contempt  and  abhorrence  of  crime; 
up  time-worn  winding  stairs,  past  men-at-arms 
in  casquet  and  corselet  of  steel,  darting  threat- 
ening looks  through  their  vizards;  across  court- 
yards, where  mastiffs  strained  at  their  leash 
and  pawed  the  air  to  get  at  him;  past  ancient 
warders,  their  halberds  leant  against  the  wall, 
dozing  over  a  pasty  and  a  flagon  of  brown  ale; 
on  and  on,  past  the  rack-chamber  and  the 
thumbscrew-room,  past  the  turning  that  led  to 
the  private  scaffold,  till  they  reached  the  door  of 
the  grimmest  dungeon  that  lay  in  the  heart  of 
the  innermost  keep.  There  at  last  they  paused, 

164 


Tiinil  irtifs  <i  Iirtjilcss  prisoner  in  the 
remotest  diint/con 


MR.    TOAD 

where  an  ancient  gaoler  sat  fingering  a  bunch 
of  mighty  keys. 

"  Oddsbodikins ! "  said  the  sergeant  of  police, 
taking  off  his  helmet  and  wiping  his  forehead. 
'Rouse  thee,  old  loon,  and  take  over  from  us 
this  vile  Toad,  a  criminal  of  deepest  guilt  and 
matchless  artfulness  and  resource.  Watch  and 
ward  him  with  all  thy  skill;  and  mark  thee 
well,  greybeard,  should  aught  untoward  befall, 
thy  old  head  shall  answer  for  his  —  and  a  mur- 
rain on  both  of  them!" 

The  gaoler  nodded  grimly,  laying  his  withered 
hand  on  the  shoulder  of  the  miserable  Toad. 
The  rusty  key  creaked  in  the  lock,  the  great 
door  clanged  behind  them;  and  Toad  was  a 
helpless  prisoner  in  the  remotest  dungeon  of  the 
best-guarded  keep  of  the  stoutest  castle  in  all 
the  length  and  breadth  of  Merry  England. 


165 


VII 

THE   PIPER  AT   THE   GATES 
OF   DAWN 


VII 

THE   PIPER  AT   THE   GATES 
OF   DAWN 

THE  Willow- Wren  was  twittering  his  thin 
little  song,  hidden  himself  in  the  dark 
selvedge  of  the  river  bank.  Though  it  was  past 
ten  o'clock  at  night,  the  sky  still  clung  to  and 
retained  some  lingering  skirts  of  light  from  the 
departed  day;  and  the  sullen  heats  of  the  torrid 
afternoon  broke  up  and  rolled  away  at  the  dis- 
persing touch  of  the  cool  fingers  of  the  short 
midsummer  night.  Mole  lay  stretched  on  the 
bank,  still  panting  from  the  stress  of  the  fierce 
day  that  had  been  cloudless  from  dawn  to  late 
sunset,  and  waited  for  his  friend  to  return. 
He  had  been  on  the  river  with  some  companions, 
leaving  the  Water  Rat  free  to  keep  an  engage- 
ment of  long  standing  with  Otter;  and  he  had 
come  back  to  find  the  house  dark  and  deserted, 
and  no  sign  of  Rat,  who  was  doubtless  keeping 

169 


THE    \VIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

it  up  late  with  his  old  comrade.  It  was  still 
too  hot  to  think  of  staying  indoors,  so  he  lay 
on  some  cool  dock-leaves,  and  thought  over  the 
past  day  and  its  doings,  and  how  very  good 
they  all  had  been. 

The  Rat's  light  footfall  was  presently  heard 
approaching  over  the  parched  grass.  "0,  the 
blessed  coolness!"  he  said,  and  sat  down,  ga- 
zing thoughtfully  into  the  river,  silent  and  pre- 
occupied. 

"You  stayed  to  supper,  of  course?"  said  the 
Mole  presently. 

"Simply  had  to,"  said  the  Rat.  "They 
wouldn't  hear  of  my  going  before.  You  know 
how  kind  they  always  are.  And  they  made 
things  as  jolly  for  me  as  ever  they  could,  right 
up  to  the  moment  I  left.  But  I  felt  a  brute  all 
the  time,  as  it  was  clear  to  me  they  were  very 
unhappy,  though  they  tried  to  hide  it.  Mole, 
I  'm  afraid  they  're  in  trouble.  Little  Portly  is 
missing  again;  and  you  know  what  a  lot  his 
father  thinks  of  him,  though  he  never  says 
much  about  it." 

"What,  that  child?"  said  the  Mole  lightly, 

170 


THE  PIPER 

'Well,  suppose  he  is;  why  worry  about  it? 
He  's  always  straying  off  and  getting  lost,  and 
turning  up  again;  he  's  so  adventurous.  But 
no  harm  ever  happens  to  him.  Everybody  here- 
abouts knows  him  and  likes  him,  just  as  they 
do  old  Otter,  and  you  may  be  sure  some  animal 
or  other  will  come  across  him  and  bring  him 
back  again  all  right.  Why,  we  've  found  him 
ourselves,  miles  from  home,  and  quite  self- 
possessed  and  cheerful!" 

'Yes;  but  this  time  it  's  more  serious,"  said 
the  Rat  gravely.  "He  's  been  missing  for  some 
days  now,  and  the  Otters  have  hunted  every- 
where, high  and  low,  without  finding  the  slight- 
est trace.  And  they  've  asked  every  animal, 
too,  for  miles  around,  and  no  one  knows  any- 
thing about  him.  Otter  's  evidently  more  anx- 
ious than  he  '11  admit.  I  got  out  of  him  that 
young  Portly  hasn't  learnt  to  swim  very  well 
yet,  and  I  can  see  he  's  thinking  of  the  weir. 
There  's  a  lot  of  water  coming  down  still,  con- 
sidering the  time  of  the  year,  and  the  place 
always  had  a  fascination  for  the  child.  And 
then  there  are  —  well,  traps  and  things  —  you 

171 


THE    WIND    IN    THE   WILLOWS 

know.  Otter 's  not  the  fellow  to  be  nervous 
about  any  son  of  his  before  it 's  time.  And  now 
he  is  nervous.  When  I  left,  he  came  out  with 
me  -  -  said  he  wanted  some  air,  and  talked  about 
stretching  his  legs.  But  I  could  see  it  wasn't 
that,  so  I  drew  him  out  and  pumped  him,  and 
got  it  all  from  him  at  last.  He  was  going  to 
spend  the  night  watching  by  the  ford.  You 
know  the  place  where  the  old  ford  used  to  be, 
in  by-gone  days  before  they  built  the  bridge? '; 
"I  know  it  well,"  said  the  Mole.  "But  why 
should  Otter  choose  to  watch  there?" 

'Well,  it  seems  that  it  was  there  he  gave 
Portly  his  first  swimming-lesson,"  continued  the 
Rat.  "From  that  shallow,  gravelly  spit  near  the 
bank.  And  it  was  there  he  used  to  teach  him 
fishing,  and  there  young  Portly  caught  his  first 
fish,  of  which  he  was  so  very  proud.  The  child 
loved  the  spot,  and  Otter  thinks  that  if  he  came 
wandering  back  from  wherever  he  is  -  -  if  he  is 
anywhere  by  this  time,  poor  little  chap  -  -  he 
might  make  for  the  ford  he  was  so  fond  of;  or 
if  he  came  across  it  he  'd  remember  it  well,  and 
stop  there  and  play,  perhaps.  So  Otter  goes 

172 


THE   PIPER 

there  every  night  and  watches  —  on  the  chance, 
you  know,  just  on  the  chance!' 

They  were  silent  for  a  time,  both  thinking 
of  the  same  thing — the  lonely,  heart-sore  animal, 
crouched  by  the  ford,  watching  and  waiting,  the 
long  night  through — on  the  chance. 

"Well,  well,"  said  the  Rat  presently,  "I  sup- 
pose we  ought  to  be  thinking  about  turning  in." 
But  he  never  offered  to  move. 

"Rat,"  said  the  Mole,  "I  simply  can't  go  and 
turn  in,  and  go  to  sleep,  and  do  nothing,  even 
though  there  doesn't  seem  to  be  anything  to  be 
done.  We  '11  get  the  boat  out,  and  paddle  up- 
stream. The  moon  will  be  up  in  an  hour  or  so, 
and  then  we  will  search  as  well  as  we  can  - 
anyhow,  it  will  be  better  than  going  to  bed  and 
doing  nothing" 

"Just  what  I  was  thinking  myself,"  said  the 
Rat.  "It 's  not  the  sort  of  night  for  bed  any- 
how; and  daybreak  is  not  so  very  far  off,  and 
then  we  may  pick  up  some  news  of  him  from 
early  risers  as  we  go  along." 

They  got  the  boat  out,  and  the  Rat  took  the 
sculls,    paddling    with    caution.      Out    in    mid- 
173 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

stream,  there  was  a  clear,  narrow  track  that 
faintly  reflected  the  sky;  but  wherever  shadows 
fell  on  the  water  from  bank,  bush,  or  tree,  they 
were  as  solid  to  all  appearance  as  the  banks 
themselves,  and  the  Mole  had  to  steer  with 
judgment  accordingly.  Dark  and  deserted  as 
it  was,  the  night  was  full  of  small  noises,  song 
and  chatter  and  rustling,  telling  of  the  busy 
little  population  who  were  up  and  about,  plying 
their  trades  and  vocations  through  the  night  till 
sunshine  should  fall  on  them  at  last  and  send 
them  off  to  their  well-earned  repose.  The 
water's  own  noises,  too,  were  more  apparent 
than  by  day,  its  gurglings  and  "cloops"  more 
unexpected  and  near  at  hand;  and  constantly 
they  started  at  what  seemed  a  sudden  clear  call 
from  an  actual  articulate  voice. 

The  line  of  the  horizon  was  clear  and  hard 
against  the  sky,  and  in  one  particular  quarter  it 
showed  black  against  a  silvery  climbing  phos- 
phorescence that  grew  and  grew.  At  last,  over 
the  rim  of  the  waiting  earth  the  moon  lifted 
with  slow  majesty  till  it  swung  clear  of  the 
horizon  and  rode  off,  free  of  moorings;  and 

174 


THE   PIPER 

once  more  they  began  to  see  surfaces  —  mead- 
ows wide-spread,  and  quiet  gardens,  and  the 
river  itself  from  bank  to  bank,  all  softly  disclosed, 
all  washed  clean  of  mystery  and  terror,  all  ra- 
diant again  as  by  day,  but  with  a  difference 
that  was  tremendous.  Their  old  haunts  greeted 
them  again  in  other  raiment,  as  if  they  had 
slipped  away  and  put  on  this  pure  new  apparel 
and  come  quietly  back,  smiling  as  they  shyly 
waited  to  see  if  they  would  be  recognised  again 
under  it. 

Fastening  their  boat  to  a  willow,  the  friends 
landed  in  this  silent,  silver  kingdom,  and  pa- 
tiently explored  the  hedges,  the  hollow  trees, 
the  runnels  and  their  little  culverts,  the  ditches 
and  dry  water-ways.  Embarking  again  and 
crossing  over,  they  worked  their  way  up  the 
stream  in  this  manner,  while  the  moon,  serene 
and  detached  in  a  cloudless  sky,  did  what  she 
could,  though  so  far  off,  to  help  them  in  their 
quest;  till  her  hour  came  and  she  sank  earth- 
wards reluctantly,  and  left  them,  and  mystery 
once  more  held  field  and  river. 

Then  a  change  began  slowly  to  declare  itself. 

175 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

The  horizon  became  clearer,  field  and  tree  came 
more  into  sight,  and  somehow  with  a  different 
look;  the  mystery  began  to  drop  away  from 
them.  A  bird  piped  suddenly,  and  was  still; 
and  a  light  breeze  sprang  up  and  set  the  reeds 
and  bulrushes  rustling.  Rat,  who  was  in  the 
stern  of  the  boat,  while  Mole  sculled,  sat  up 
suddenly  and  listened  with  a  passionate  intent- 
ness.  Mole,  who  with  gentle  strokes  was  just 
keeping  the  boat  moving  while  he  scanned 
the  banks  with  care,  looked  at  him  with  curi- 
osity. 

"It 's  gone!"  sighed  the  Rat,  sinking  back  in 
his  seat  again.  "So  beautiful  and  strange  and 
new!  Since  it  was  to  end  so  soon,  I  almost 
wish  I  had  never  heard  it.  For  it  has  roused  a 
longing  in  me  that  is  pain,  and  nothing  seems 
worth  while  but  just  to  hear  that  sound  once 
more  and  go  on  listening  to  it  for  ever.  No! 
There  it  is  again!"  he  cried,  alert  once  more. 
Entranced,  he  was  silent  for  a  long  space,  spell- 
bound. 

"Now  it  passes  on  and  I  begin  to  lose  it,"  he 
said  presently.  "O  Mole!  the  beauty  of  it! 

176 


THE   PIPER 

The  merry  bubble  and  joy,  the  thin,  clear,  happy 
call  of  the  distant  piping!  Such  music  I  never 
dreamed  of,  and  the  call  in  it  is  stronger  even 
than  the  music  is  sweet!  Row  on,  Mole,  row! 
For  the  music  and  the  call  must  be  for  us." 

The  Mole,  greatly  wondering,  obeyed.  "I 
hear  nothing  myself,"  he  said,  'but  the  wind 
playing  in  the  reeds  and  rushes  and  osiers." 

The  Rat  never  answered,  if  indeed  he  heard. 
Rapt,  transported,  trembling,  he  was  possessed 
in  all  his  senses  by  this  new  divine  thing  that 
caught  up  his  helpless  soul  and  swung  and 
dandled  it,  a  powerless  but  happy  infant  in  a 
strong  sustaining  grasp. 

In  silence  Mole  rowed  steadily,  and  soon  they 
came  to  a  point  where  the  river  divided,  a  long 
backwater  branching  off  to  one  side.  With  a 
slight  movement  of  his  head  Rat,  who  had  long 
dropped  the  rudder-lines,  directed  the  rower  to 
take  the  backwater.  The  creeping  tide  of  light 
gained  and  gained,  and  now  they  could  see  the 
colour  of  the  flowers  that  gemmed  the  water's 
edge. 

"Clearer  and  nearer  still,"  cried  the  Rat  joy- 

177 


THE    WIND    IN   THE    WILLOWS 

ously.      'Now  you  must  surely  hear  it!     Ah  - 
at  last-  -I  see  you  do!" 

Breathless  and  transfixed,  the  Mole  stopped 
rowing  as  the  liquid  run  of  that  glad  piping 
broke  on  him  like  a  wave,  caught  him  up,  and 
possessed  him  utterly.  He  saw  the  tears  on  his 
comrade's  cheeks,  and  bowed  his  head  and 
understood.  For  a  space  they  hung  there, 
brushed  by  the  purple  loosestrife  that  fringed 
the  bank;  then  the  clear  imperious  summons 
that  marched  hand-in-hand  with  the  intoxicating 
melody  imposed  its  will  on  Mole,  and  mechani- 
cally he  bent  to  his  oars  again.  And  the  light 
grew  steadily  stronger,  but  no  birds  sang  as  they 
were  wont  to  do  at  the  approach  of  dawn;  and 
but  for  the  heavenly  music  all  was  marvellously 
still. 

On  either  side  of  them,  as  they  glided  onwards, 
the  rich  meadow-grass  seemed  that  morning 
of  a  freshness  and  a  greenness  unsurpassable. 
Never  had  they  noticed  the  roses  so  vivid,  the 
\villowr-herb  so  riotous,  the  meadow-sweet  so 
odorous  and  pervading.  Then  the  murmur  of 
the  approaching  weir  began  to  hold  the  air,  and 

178 


THE   PIPER 

they  felt  a  consciousness  that  they  were  nearing 
the  end,  whatever  it  might  be,  that  surely 
awaited  their  expedition. 

A  wide  half-circle  of  foam  and  glinting  lights 
and  shining  shoulders  of  green  water,  the  great 
weir  closed  the  backwater  from  bank  to  bank, 
troubled  all  the  quiet  surface  with  twirling 
eddies  and  floating  foam-streaks,  and  deadened 
all  other  sounds  with  its  solemn  and  soothing 
rumble.  In  midmost  of  the  stream,  embraced 
in  the  weir's  shimmering  arm-spread,  a  small 
island  lay  anchored,  fringed  close  with  willow 
and  silver  birch  and  alder.  Reserved,  shy,  but 
full  of  significance,  it  hid  whatever  it  might 
hold  behind  a  veil,  keeping  it  till  the  hour 
should  come,  and,  with  the  hour,  those  who 
were  called  and  chosen. 

Slowly,  but  with  no  doubt  or  hesitation  what- 
ever, and  in  something  of  a  solemn  expectancy, 
the  two  animals  passed  through  the  broken, 
tumultuous  water  and  moored  their  boat  at  the 
flowery  margin  of  the  island.  In  silence  they 
landed,  and  pushed  through  the  blossom  and 
scented  herbage  and  undergrowth  that  led  up 

179 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

to  the  level  ground,  till  they  stood  on  a  little 
lawn  of  a  marvellous  green,  set  round  with 
Nature's  own  orchard-trees  —  crab-apple,  wild 
cherry,  and  sloe. 

'This  is  the  place  of  my  song-dream,  the 
place  the  music  played  to  me,"  whispered  the 
Rat,  as  if  in  a  trance.  'Here,  in  this  holy  place, 
here  if  anywrhere,  surely  we  shall  find  Him!" 

Then  suddenly  the  Mole  felt  a  great  Awe  fall 
upon  him,  an  awe  that  turned  his  muscles  to 
water,  bowed  his  head,  and  rooted  his  feet  to 
the  ground.  It  was  no  panic  terror  -  -  indeed  he 
felt  wonderfully  at  peace  and  happy  -  -  but  it 
was  an  awe  that  smote  and  held  him  and,  with- 
out seeing,  he  knew  it  could  only  mean  that 
some  august  Presence  was  very,  very  near. 
With  difficulty  he  turned  to  look  for  his  friend, 
and  saw  him  at  his  side,  cowed,  stricken,  and 
trembling  violently.  And  still  there  was  utter 
silence  in  the  populous  bird-haunted  branches 
around  them;  and  still  the  light  grew  and  grew. 

Perhaps  he  would  never  have  dared  to  raise 
his  eyes,  but  that,  though  the  piping  was  now 
hushed,  the  call  and  the  summons  seemed  still 

180 


THE   PIPER 

dominant  and  imperious.  He  might  not  refuse, 
were  Death  himself  waiting  to  strike  him  in- 
stantly, once  he  had  looked  with  mortal  eye 
on  things  rightly  kept  hidden.  Trembling  he 
obeyed,  and  raised  his  humble  head;  and  then, 
in  that  utter  clearness  of  the  imminent  dawn, 
while  Nature,  flushed  with  fulness  of  incredible 
colour,  seemed  to  hold  her  breath  for  the  event, 
he  looked  in  the  very  eyes  of  the  Friend  and 
Helper;  saw  the  backward  sweep  of  the  curved 
horns,  gleaming  in  the  growing  daylight;  saw 
the  stern,  hooked  nose  between  the  kindly  eyes 
that  were  looking  down  on  them  humorously, 
v/hile  the  bearded  mouth  broke  into  a  half- 
smile  at  the  corners;  saw  the  rippling  muscles 
on  the  arm  that  lay  across  the  broad  chest,  the 
long  supple  hand  still  holding  the  pan-pipes 
only  just  fallen  away  from  the  parted  lips;  saw 
the  splendid  curves  of  the  shaggy  limbs  dis- 
posed in  majestic  ease  on  the  sward;  saw,  last 
of  all,  nestling  between  his  very  hooves,  sleep- 
ing soundly  in  entire  peace  and  contentment, 
the  little,  round,  podgy,  childish  form  of  the 
baby  otter.  All  this  he  saw,  for  one  moment 

181 


THE   WIND    IN    THE    WILLOWS 

breathless  and  intense,  vivid  on  the  morning 
sky;  and  still,  as  he  looked,  he  lived;  and  still, 
as  he  lived,  he  wondered. 

"Rat!"  he  found  breath  to  whisper,  shaking. 
"Are  you  afraid?' 

"Afraid?"  murmured  the  Rat,  his  eyes  shining 
with  unutterable  love.  "Afraid!  Of  Him?  O, 
never,  never !  And  yet  -  -  and  yet  -  -  O,  Mole, 
I  am  afraid!" 

Then  the  two  animals,  crouching  to  the  earth, 
bowed  their  heads  and  did  worship. 

Sudden  and  magnificent,  the  sun's  broad 
golden  disc  showed  itself  over  the  horizon  facing 
them;  and  the  first  rays,  shooting  across  the 
level  water-meadows,  took  the  animals  full  in 
the  eyes  and  dazzled  them.  When  they  were 
able  to  look  once  more,  the  Vision  had  vanished, 
and  the  air  was  full  of  the  carol  of  birds  that 
hailed  the  dawn. 

As  they  stared  blankly,  in  dumb  misery  deep- 
ening as  they  slowly  realised  all  they  had  seen 
and  all  they  had  lost,  a  capricious  little  breeze, 
dancing  up  from  the  surface  of  the  water,  tossed 
the  aspens,  shook  the  dewy  roses,  and  blew 

182 


THE   PIPER 

lightly  and  caressingly  in  their  faces;  and  with 
its  soft  touch  came  instant  oblivion.  For  this 
is  the  last  best  gift  that  the  kindly  demi-god 
is  careful  to  bestow  on  those  to  whom  he  has 
revealed  himself  in  their  helping:  the  gift  of 
forgetfulness.  Lest  the  awful  remembrance 
should  remain  and  grow,  and  overshadow  mirth 
and  pleasure,  and  the  great  haunting  memory 
should  spoil  all  the  after-lives  of  little  animals 
helped  out  of  difficulties,  in  order  that  they 
should  be  happy  and  light-hearted  as  before. 

Mole  rubbed  his  eyes  and  stared  at  Rat,  who 
was  looking  about  him  in  a  puzzled  sort  of 
wTay.  'I  beg  your  pardon;  what  did  you  say, 
Rat?':  he  asked. 

:'I  think  I  was  only  remarking,"  said  Rat 
slowly,  'that  this  was  the  right  sort  of  place, 
and  that  here,  if  anywhere,  we  should  find  him. 
And  look!  Why,  there  he  is,  the  little  fellow!" 
And  with  a  cry  of  delight  he  ran  towards  the 
slumbering  Portly. 

But  Mole  stood  still  a  moment,  held  in 
thought.  As  one  wakened  suddenly  from  a 
beautiful  dream,  who  struggles  to  recall  it,  and 

183 


THE    WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

can  recapture  nothing  but  a  dim  sense  of  the 
beauty  of  it,  the  beauty!  Till  that,  too,  fades 
away  in  its  turn,  and  the  dreamer  bitterly 
accepts  the  hard,  cold  waking  and  all  its  pen- 
alties; so  Mole,  after  struggling  with  his  mem- 
ory for  a  brief  space,  shook  his  head  sadly  and 
followed  the  Rat. 

Portly  woke  up  with  a  joyous  squeak,  and 
wriggled  with  pleasure  at  the  sight  of  his  father's 
friends,  who  had  played  with  him  so  often  in 
past  days.  In  a  moment,  however,  his  face 
grew  blank,  and  he  fell  to  hunting  round  in  a 
circle  with  pleading  whine.  As  a  child  that  has 
fallen  happily  asleep  in  its  nurse's  arms,  and 
wakes  to  find  itself  alone  and  laid  in  a  strange 
place,  and  searches  corners  and  cupboards,  and 
runs  from  room  to  room,  despair  growing 
silently  in  its  heart,  even  so  Portly  searched  the 
island  and  searched,  dogged  and  unwearying, 
till  at  last  the  black  moment  came  for  giving  it 
up,  and  sitting  down  and  crying  bitterly. 

The  Mole  ran  quickly  to  comfort  the  little  ani- 
mal; but  Rat,  lingering,  looked  long  and  doubt- 
fully at  certain  hoof-marks  deep  in  the  sward. 

184 


THE   PIPER 

"Some  —  great  —  animal  —  has  been  here," 
he  murmured  slowly  and  thoughtfully;  and 
stood  musing,  musing;  his  mind  strangely 
stirred. 

"Come  along,  Rat!"  called  the  Mole.  "Think 
of  poor  Otter,  waiting  up  there  by  the  ford!" 

Portly  had  soon  been  comforted  by  the  prom- 
ise of  a  treat  —  a  jaunt  on  the  river  in  Mr. 
Rat's  real  boat;  and  the  two  animals  conducted 
him  to  the  water's  side,  placed  him  securely 
between  them  in  the  bottom  of  the  boat,  and 
paddled  off  down  the  backwater.  The  sun  was 
fully  up  by  now,  and  hot  on  them,  birds  sang 
lustily  and  without  restraint,  and  flowers  smiled 
and  nodded  from  either  bank,  but  somehow  — 
so  thought  the  animals  —  with  less  of  richness 
and  blaze  of  colour  than  they  seemed  to  remem- 
ber seeing  quite  recently  somewhere  —  they  won- 
dered where. 

The  main  river  reached  again,  they  turned 
the  boat's  head  upstream,  towards  the  point 
where  they  knew  their  friend  was  keeping  his 
lonely  vigil.  As  they  drew  near  the  familiar 
ford,  the  Mole  took  the  boat  in  to  the  bank,  and 

185 


THE    WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

they  lifted  Portly  out  and  set  him  on  his  legs 
on  the  tow-path,  gave  him  his  marching  orders 
and  a  friendly  farewell  pat  on  the  back,  and 
shoved  out  into  mid-stream.  They  watched  the 
little  animal  as  he  waddled  along  the  path  con- 
tentedly and  with  importance;  watched  him 
till  they  saw  his  muzzle  suddenly  lift  and  his 
waddle  break  into  a  clumsy  amble  as  he  quick- 
ened his  pace  with  shrill  whines  and  wriggles  of 
recognition.  Looking  up  the  river,  they  could 
see  Otter  start  up,  tense  and  rigid,  from  out  of 
the  shallows  where  he  crouched  in  dumb  pa- 
tience, and  could  hear  his  amazed  and  joyous 
bark  as  he  bounded  up  through  the  osiers  on  to 
the  path.  Then  the  Mole,  with  a  strong  pull 
on  one  oar,  swung  the  boat  round  and  let  the 
full  stream  bear  them  down  again  whither  it 
would,  their  quest  now  happily  ended. 

'I  feel  strangely  tired,  Rat,"  said  the  Mole, 
leaning  wearily  over  his  oars,  as  the  boat  drifted. 
'It's  being  up  all  night,  you'll  say,  perhaps; 
but  that 's  nothing.  We  do  as  much  half  the 
nights  of  the  week,  at  this  time  of  the  year. 
No;  I  feel  as  if  I  had  been  through  something 

186 


THE   PIPER 

very  exciting  and  rather  terrible,  and  it  was  just 
over;  and  yet  nothing  particular  has  happened." 

"Or  something  very  surprising  and  splendid 
and  beautiful,"  murmured  the  Rat,  leaning  back 
and  closing  his  eyes.  "I  feel  just  as  you  do, 
Mole;  simply  dead  tired,  though  not  body- 
tired.  It 's  lucky  we  've  got  the  stream  with  us, 
to  take  us  home.  Isn't  it  jolly  to  feel  the  sun 
again,  soaking  into  one's  bones!  And  hark  to 
the  wind  playing  in  the  reeds!" 

"It 's  like  music  —  far-away  music,"  said  the 
Mole,  nodding  drowsily. 

"So  I  was  thinking,"  murmured  the  Rat, 
dreamful  and  languid.  :' Dance-music  —  the 
lilting  sort  that  runs  on  without  a  stop  —  but 
with  words  in  it,  too  —  it  passes  into  words  and 
out  of  them  again  —  I  catch  them  at  intervals 
—  then  it  is  dance-music  once  more,  and  then 
nothing  but  the  reeds'  soft  thin  whispering." 

'You  hear  better  than  I,"  said  the  Mole 
sadly.  "I  cannot  catch  the  words." 

"Let  me  try  and  give  you  them,"  said  the 
Rat  softly,  his  eyes  still  closed.  "Now  it  is 
turning  into  words  again  —  faint  but  clear  — 

187 


THE    WIND   IN   THE   WILLOWS 

Lest  the  awe  should  dwell-  -  And  turn  your  frolic 
to  fret  -  -  You  shall  look  on  my  poiver  at  the  help- 
ing hour  -  -  But  then  you  shall  forget!  Now  the 
reeds  take  it  up  -  -forget,  forget,  they  sigh,  and  it 
dies  away  in  a  rustle  and  a  whisper.  Then  the 
voice  returns  - 

"Lest  limbs  be  reddened  and  rent-  -I  spring 
the  trap  that  is  set-  -  As  I  loose  the  snare  you  may 
glimpse  me  there  -  -  For  surely  you  shall  forget ! 
Row  nearer,  Mole,  nearer  to  the  reeds!  It  is 
hard  to  catch,  and  grows  each  minute  fainter. 

" Helper  and  healer,  I  cheer-  -  Small  waifs  in 
the  woodland  wet  —  Strays  I  find  in  it,  wounds  I 
bind  in  it-  -Bidding  them  all  forget!  Nearer, 
Mole,  nearer!  No,  it  is  no  good;  the  song  has 
died  away  into  reed-talk." 

"But  what  do  the  words  mean?"  asked  the 
wondering  Mole. 

"That  I  do  not  know,"  said  the  Rat  simply. 
"I  passed  them  on  to  you  as  they  reached  me. 
Ah!  now  they  return  again,  and  this  time  full 
and  clear!  This  time,  at  last,  it  is  the  real,  the 
unmistakable  thing,  simple  -  -  passionate  -  -  per- 
fect—" 

188 


THE   PIPER 

"Well,  let's  have  it,  then,"  said  the  Mole, 
after  he  had  waited  patiently  for  a  few  minutes, 
half-dozing  in  the  hot  sun. 

But  no  answer  came.  He  looked,  and  under- 
stood the  silence.  With  a  smile  of  much  hap- 
piness on  his  face,  and  something  of  a  listening 
look  still  lingering  there,  the  weary  Rat  was 
fast  asleep. 


189 


VIII 
TOAD'S   ADVENTURES 


VIII 
TOAD'S   ADVENTURES 

WHEN  Toad  found  himself  immured  in  a 
dank  and  noisome  dungeon,  and  knew 
that  all  the  grim  darkness  of  a  medieval  for- 
tress lay  between  him  and  the  outer  world  of 
sunshine  and  well-metalled  high  roads  where  he 
had  lately  been  so  happy,  disporting  himself  as 
if  he  had  bought  up  every  road  in  England,  he 
flung  himself  at  full  length  on  the  floor,  and  shed 
bitter  tears,  and  abandoned  himself  to  dark 
despair.  'This  is  the  end  of  everything"  (he 
said),  "at  least  it  is  the  end  of  the  career  of 
Toad,  which  is  the  same  thing;  the  popular 
and  handsome  Toad,  the  rich  and  hospitable 
Toad,  the  Toad  so  free  and  careless  and  debo- 
nair! How  can  I  hope  to  be  ever  set  at  large 
again"  (he  said),  "who  have  been  imprisoned  so 
justly  for  stealing  so  handsome  a  motor-car  in 
such  an  audacious  manner,  and  for  such  lurid 

193 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

and  imaginative  cheek,  bestowed  upon  such  a 
number  of  fat,  red-faced  policemen!"  (Here  his 
sobs  choked  him.)  "Stupid  animal  that  I  was" 
(he  said),  "now  I  must  languish  in  this  dungeon, 
till  people  who  were  proud  to  say  they  knew  me, 
have  forgotten  the  very  name  of  Toad !  O  wise 
old  Badger!"  (he  said),  "O  clever,  intelligent 
Rat  and  sensible  Mole !  What  sound  judgments, 
what  a  knowledge  of  men  and  matters  you  pos- 
sess! O  unhappy  and  forsaken  Toad!"  With 
lamentations  such  as  these  he  passed  his  days 
and  nights  for  several  weeks,  refusing  his  meals 
or  intermediate  light  refreshments,  though  the 
grim  and  ancient  gaoler,  knowing  that  Toad's 
pockets  were  well  lined,  frequently  pointed  out 
that  many  comforts,  and  indeed  luxuries,  could 
by  arrangement  be  sent  in  —  at  a  price  —  from 
outside. 

Now  the  gaoler  had  a  daughter,  a  pleasant 
wench  and  good-hearted,  who  assisted  her  father 
in  the  lighter  duties  of  his  post.  She  was  par- 
ticularly fond  of  animals,  and,  besides  her  ca- 
nary, whose  cage  hung  on  a  nail  in  the  massive 
wall  of  the  keep  by  day,  to  the  great  annoyance 

194 


TOAD'S   ADVENTURES 

of  prisoners  who  relished  an  after-dinner  nap, 
and  was  shrouded  in  an  antimacassar  on  the 
parlour  table  at  night,  she  kept  several  piebald 
mice  and  a  restless  revolving  squirrel.  This 
kind-hearted  girl,  pitying  the  misery  of  Toad, 
said  to  her  father  one  day,  "Father!  I  can't  bear 
to  see  that  poor  beast  so  unhappy,  and  getting  so 
thin!  You  let  me  have  the  managing  of  him. 
You  know  how  fond  of  animals  I  am.  I  '11  make 
him  eat  from  my  hand,  and  sit  up,  and  do  all 
sorts  of  things." 

Her  father  replied  that  she  could  do  what  she 
liked  with  him.  He  was  tired  of  Toad,  and  his 
sulks  and  his  airs  and  his  meanness.  So  that 
day  she  went  on  her  errand  of  mercy,  and 
knocked  at  the  door  of  Toad's  cell. 

"Now,  cheer  up,  Toad,"  she  said,  coaxingly, 
on  entering,  "and  sit  up  and  dry  your  eyes  and 
be  a  sensible  animal.  And  do  try  and  eat  a  bit 
of  dinner.  See,  I  've  brought  you  some  of  mine, 
hot  from  the  oven!" 

It  was  bubble-and-squeak,  between  two  plates, 
and  its  fragrance  filled  the  narrow  cell.  The 
penetrating  smell  of  cabbage  reached  the  nose 

195 


THE   WIND   IN   THE   WILLOWS 

of  Toad  as  he  lay  prostrate  in  his  misery  on  the 
floor,  and  gave  him  the  idea  for  a  moment  that 
perhaps  life  was  not  such  a  blank  and  desperate 
thing  as  he  had  imagined.  But  still  he  wailed, 
and  kicked  with  his  legs,  and  refused  to  be 
comforted.  So  the  wise  girl  retired  for  the 
time,  but,  of  course,  a  good  deal  of  the  smell 
of  hot  cabbage  remained  behind,  as  it  will  do, 
and  Toad,  between  his  sobs,  sniffed  and  re- 
flected, and  gradually  began  to  think  new  and 
inspiring  thoughts:  of  chivalry,  and  poetry, 
and  deeds  still  to  be  done;  of  broad  meadows, 
and  cattle  browsing  in  them,  raked  by  sun  and 
wind;  of  kitchen-gardens,  and  straight  herb- 
borders,  and  warm  snap-dragon  beset  by  bees; 
and  of  the  comforting  clink  of  dishes  set  down 
on  the  table  at  Toad  Hall,  and  the  scrape  of 
chair-legs  on  the  floor  as  every  one  pulled  him- 
self close  up  to  his  work.  The  air  of  the  narrow 
cell  took  a  rosy  tinge;  he  began  to  think  of  his 
friends,  and  how  they  would  surely  be  able  to 
do  something;  of  lawyers,  and  how  they  would 
have  enjoyed  his  case,  and  what  an  ass  he  had 
been  not  to  get  in  a  few;  and  lastly,  he  thought 

196 


Hi-  Inij  jii-t>nti'(itc  in  liiti  mim'ry  oil 
tlte  floor 


TOAD'S   ADVENTURES 

of  his  own  great  cleverness  and  resource,  and 
all  that  he  was  capable  of  if  he  only  gave  his 
great  mind  to  it;  and  the  cure  was  almost  com- 
plete. 

When  the  girl  returned,  some  hours  later,  she 
carried  a  tray,  with  a  cup  of  fragrant  tea  steam- 
ing on  it;  and  a  plate  piled  up  with  very  hot 
buttered  toast,  cut  thick,  very  brown  on  both 
sides,  with  the  butter  running  through  the  holes 
in  it  in  great  golden  drops,  like  honey  from  the 
honeycomb.  The  smell  of  that  buttered  toast 
simply  talked  to  Toad,  and  with  no  uncertain 
voice;  talked  of  warm  kitchens,  of  breakfasts 
on  bright  frosty  mornings,  of  cosy  parlour  fire- 
sides on  winter  evenings,  when  one's  ramble 
was  over,  and  slippered  feet  were  propped  on  the 
fender;  of  the  purring  of  contented  cats,  and 
the  twitter  of  sleepy  canaries.  Toad  sat  up  on 
end  once  more,  dried  his  eyes,  sipped  his  tea 
and  munched  his  toast,  and  soon  began  talking 
freely  about  himself,  and  the  house  he  lived  in, 
and  his  doings  there,  and  how  important  he 
was,  and  what  a  lot  his  friends  thought  of  him. 

The  gaoler's  daughter  saw  that  the  topic  was 

197 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

doing  him  as  much  good  as  the  tea,  as  indeed 
it  was,  and  encouraged  him  to  go  on. 

"Tell  me  about  Toad  Hall,"  said  she.  "It 
sounds  beautiful." 

"Toad  Hall,"  said  the  Toad  proudly,  "is  an 
eligible,  self-contained  gentleman's  residence, 
very  unique;  dating  in  part  from  the  fourteenth 
century,  but  replete  with  every  modern  con- 
venience. Up-to-date  sanitation.  Five  min- 
utes from  church,  post-office,  and  golf-links. 
Suitable  for  — ' 

"Bless  the  animal,"  said  the  girl,  laughing, 
"I  don't  want  to  take  it.  Tell  me  something 
real  about  it.  But  first  wait  till  I  fetch  you  some 
more  tea  and  toast." 

She  tripped  away,  and  presently  returned  with 
a  fresh  trayful;  and  Toad,  pitching  into  the 
toast  with  avidity,  his  spirits  quite  restored  to 
their  usual  level,  told  her  about  the  boat-house, 
and  the  fish-pond,  and  the  old  walled  kitchen- 
garden;  and  about  the  pig-styes  and  the 
stables,  and  the  pigeon-house  and  the  hen- 
house; and  about  the  dairy,  and  the  wash- 
house,  and  the  china-cupboards,  and  the  linen- 

198 


TOAD'S    ADVENTURES 

presses  (she  liked  that  bit  especially) ;  and  about 
the  banqueting-hall,  and  the  fun  they  had  there 
when  the  other  animals  were  gathered  round 
the  table  and  Toad  was  at  his  best,  singing 
songs,  telling  stories,  carrying  on  generally. 
Then  she  wanted  to  know  about  his  animal- 
friends,  and  was  very  interested  in  all  he  had  to 
tell  her  about  them  and  how  they  lived,  and 
what  they  did  to  pass  their  time.  Of  course,  she 
did  not  say  she  was  fond  of  animals  as  pets, 
because  she  had  the  sense  to  see  that  Toad 
would  be  extremely  offended.  When  she  said 
good-night,  having  filled  his  water-jug  and 
shaken  up  his  straw  for  him,  Toad  was  very 
much  the  same  sanguine,  self-satisfied  animal 
that  he  had  been  of  old.  He  sang  a  little  song 
or  two,  of  the  sort  he  used  to  sing  at  his  dinner- 
parties, curled  himself  up  in  the  straw,  and  had 
an  excellent  night's  rest  and  the  pleasantest  of 
dreams. 

They  had  many  interesting  talks  together, 
after  that,  as  the  dreary  days  went  on;  and  the 
gaoler's  daughter  grew  very  sorry  for  Toad,  and 
thought  it  a  great  shame  that  a  poor  little 

199 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

animal  should  be  locked  up  in  prison  for  what 
seemed  to  her  a  very  trivial  offence.  Toad,  of 
course,  in  his  vanity,  thought  that  her  interest 
in  him  proceeded  from  a  growing  tenderness; 
and  he  could  not  help  half-regretting  that  the 
social  gulf  between  them  was  so  very  wide,  for 
she  was  a  comely  lass,  and  evidently  admired 
him  very  much. 

One  morning  the  girl  was  very  thoughtful, 
and  answered  at  random,  and  did  not  seem  to 
Toad  to  be  paying  proper  attention  to  his  witty 
sayings  and  sparkling  comments. 

'Toad,"  she  said  presently,  "just  listen, 
please.  I  have  an  aunt  who  is  a  washerwoman." 

'There,  there,"  said  Toad,  graciously  and  af- 
fably, " never  mind;  think  no  more  about  it. 
I  have  several  aunts  who  ought  to  be  washer- 


women.' 


"Do  be  quiet  a  minute,  Toad,"  said  the  girl. 
'You  talk  too  much,  that 's  your  chief  fault, 
and  I  'm  trying  to  think,  and  you  hurt  my  head. 
As  I  said,  I  have  an  aunt  who  is  a  washerwoman; 
she  does  the  washing  for  all  the  prisoners  in  this 
castle  —  we  try  to  keep  any  paying  business  of 

200 


TOAD'S   ADVENTURES 

that  sort  in  the  family,  you  understand.  She 
takes  out  the  washing  on  Monday  morning,  and 
brings  it  in  on  Friday  evening.  This  is  a  Thurs- 
day. Now,  this  is  what  occurs  to  me:  you  're 
very  rich  —  at  least  you  're  always  telling 
me  so  —  and  she  's  very  poor.  A  few  pounds 
wouldn't  make  any  difference  to  you,  and  it 
would  mean  a  lot  to  her.  Now,  I  think  if  she 
were  properly  approached  —  squared,  I  believe 
is  the  word  you  animals  use  —  you  could  come 
to  some  arrangement  by  which  she  would  let  you 
have  her  dress  and  bonnet  and  so  on,  and  you 
could  escape  from  the  castle  as  the  official  wash- 
erwoman. You  're  very  alike  in  many  respects 
—  particularly  about  the  figure." 

"We're  not,"  said  the  Toad  in  a  huff.  "I 
have  a  very  elegant  figure  —  for  what  I  am." 

"So  has  my  aunt,"  replied  the  girl,  "for  what 
she  is.  But  have  it  your  own  way.  You  horrid, 
proud,  ungrateful  animal,  when  I  'm  sorry  for 
you,  and  trying  to  help  you!" 

'Yes,  yes,  that 's  all  right;  thank  you  very 
much  indeed,"  said  the  Toad  hurriedly.  'But 

look  here !   you  wouldn't  surely  have  Mr.  Toad, 

201 


THE    WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

of  Toad  Hall,  going  about  the  country  dis- 
guised as  a  washerwoman!" 

"Then  you  can  stop  here  as  a  Toad,"  replied 
the  girl  with  much  spirit.  'I  suppose  you  want 
to  go  off  in  a  coach-and-four!v 

Honest  Toad  was  always  ready  to  admit 
himself  in  the  wrong.  'You  are  a  good,  kind, 
clever  girl,"  he  said,  "and  I  am  indeed  a  proud 
and  a  stupid  toad.  Introduce  me  to  your  worthy 
aunt,  if  you  will  be  so  kind,  and  I  have  no  doubt 
that  the  excellent  lady  and  I  will  be  able  to 
arrange  terms  satisfactory  to  both  parties." 

Next  evening  the  girl  ushered  her  aunt  into 
Toad's  cell,  bearing  his  week's  washing  pinned 
up  in  a  towel.  The  old  lady  had  been  prepared 
beforehand  for  the  interview,  and  the  sight  of 
certain  gold  sovereigns  that  Toad  had  thought- 
fully placed  on  the  table  in  full  view  practically 
completed  the  matter  and  left  little  further  to 
discuss.  In  return  for  his  cash,  Toad  received  a 
cotton  print  gown,  an  apron,  a  shawl,  and  a 
rusty  black  bonnet;  the  only  stipulation  the 
old  lady  made  being  that  she  should  be  gagged 
and  bound  and  dumped  down  in  a  corner.  By 

202 


TOAD'S   ADVENTURES 

this  not  very  convincing  artifice,  she  explained, 
aided  by  picturesque  fiction  which  she  could 
supply  herself,  she  hoped  to  retain  her  situa- 
tion, in  spite  of  the  suspicious  appearance  of 
things. 

Toad  was  delighted  with  the  suggestion.  It 
would  enable  him  to  leave  the  prison  in  some 
style,  and  with  his  reputation  for  being  a  des- 
perate and  dangerous  fellow  untarnished;  and 
he  readily  helped  the  gaoler's  daughter  to  make 
her  aunt  appear  as  much  as  possible  the  victim 
of  circumstances  over  which  she  had  no  con- 
trol. 

"Now  it's  your  turn,  Toad,"  said  the  girl. 
'Take  off  that  coat  and  waistcoat  of  yours; 
you  're  fat  enough  as  it  is." 

Shaking  with  laughter,  she  proceeded  to 
" hook-and-eye"  him  into  the  cotton  print  gown, 
arranged  the  shawl  with  a  professional  fold,  and 
tied  the  strings  of  the  rusty  bonnet  under  his 
chin. 

'You  're  the  very  image  of  her,"  she  giggled, 
"only  I  'm  sure  you  never  looked  half  so  re- 
spectable in  all  your  life  before.  Now,  good-bye, 

203 


THE   WIND   IN   THE   WILLOWS 

Toad,  and  good  luck.  Go  straight  down  the 
way  you  came  up;  and  if  any  one  says  any- 
thing to  you,  as  they  probably  will,  being  but 
men,  you  can  chaff  back  a  bit,  of  course,  but 
remember  you  're  a  widow  woman,  quite  alone 
in  the  world,  with  a  character  to  lose." 

With  a  quaking  heart,  but  as  firm  a  footstep 
as  he  could  command,  Toad  set  forth  cautiously 
on  what  seemed  to  be  a  most  hare-brained  and 
hazardous  undertaking;  but  he  was  soon  agree- 
ably surprised  to  find  how  easy  everything  was 
made  for  him,  and  a  little  humbled  at  the 
thought  that  both  his  popularity,  and  the  sex 
that  seemed  to  inspire  it,  were  really  another's. 
The  washerwoman's  squat  figure  in  its  familiar 
cotton  print  seemed  a  passport  for  every  barred 
door  and  grim  gateway;  even  when  he  hesi- 
tated, uncertain  as  to  the  right  turning  to  take, 
he  found  himself  helped  out  of  his  difficulty  by 
the  warder  at  the  next  gate,  anxious  to  be  off 
to  his  tea,  summoning  him  to  come  along  sharp 
and  not  keep  him  waiting  there  all  night.  The 
chaff  and  the  humourous  sallies  to  which  he  was 
subjected,  and  to  which,  of  course,  he  had  to 

204 


TOAD'S   ADVENTURES 

provide  prompt  and  effective  reply,  formed,  in- 
deed, his  chief  danger;  for  Toad  was  an  animal 
with  a  strong  sense  of  his  own  dignity,  and  the 
chaff  was  mostly  (he  thought)  poor  and  clumsy, 
and  the  humour  of  the  sallies  entirely  lacking. 
However,  he  kept  his  temper,  though  with  great 
difficulty,  suited  his  retorts  to  his  company  and 
his  supposed  character,  and  did  his  best  not  to 
overstep  the  limits  of  good  taste. 

It  seemed  hours  before  he  crossed  the  last 
courtyard,  rejected  the  pressing  invitations  from 
the  last  guardroom,  and  dodged  the  outspread 
arms  of  the  last  warder,  pleading  with  simulated 
passion  for  just  one  farewell  embrace.  But  at 
last  he  heard  the  wicket-gate  in  the  great  outer 
door  click  behind  him,  felt  the  fresh  air  of  the 
outer  world  upon  his  anxious  brow,  and  knew 
that  he  was  free! 

Dizzy  with  the  easy  success  of  his  daring 
exploit,  he  walked  quickly  towards  the  lights  of 
the  town,  not  knowing  in  the  least  what  he 
should  do  next,  only  quite  certain  of  one  thing, 
that  he  must  remove  himself  as  quickly  as 
possible  from  the  neighbourhood  where  the  lady 

205 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

he  was  forced  to  represent  was  so  well-known 
and  so  popular  a  character. 

As  he  walked  along,  considering,  his  attention 
was  caught  by  some  red  and  green  lights  a  little 
way  off,  to  one  side  of  the  town,  and  the  sound 
of  the  puffing  and  snorting  of  engines  and  the 
banging  of  shunted  trucks  fell  on  his  ear. 
"Aha!"  he  thought,  'this  is  a  piece  of  luck! 
A  railway  station  is  the  thing  I  want  most  in 
the  whole  world  at  this  moment;  and  what 's 
more,  I  needn't  go  through  the  town  to  get  it, 
and  shan't  have  to  support  this  humiliating 
character  by  repartees  which,  though  thoroughly 
effective,  do  not  assist  one's  sense  of  self- 
respect." 

He  made  his  way  to  the  station  accordingly, 
consulted  a  time-table,  and  found  that  a  train, 
bound  more  or  less  in  the  direction  of  his  home, 
was  due  to  start  in  half-an-hour.  :'More  luck!" 
said  Toad,  his  spirits  rising  rapidly,  and  went 
off  to  the  booking-office  to  buy  his  ticket. 

He  gave  the  name  of  the  station  that  he 
knew  to  be  nearest  to  the  village  of  which  Toad 
Hall  was  the  principal  feature,  and  mechanically 

206 


TOAD'S   ADVENTURES 

put  his  fingers,  in  search  of  the  necessary  money, 
where  his  waistcoat  pocket  should  have  been. 
But  here  the  cotton  gown,  which  had  nobly 
stood  by  him  so  far,  and  which  he  had  basely 
forgotten,  intervened,  and  frustrated  his  efforts. 
In  a  sort  of  nightmare  he  struggled  with  the 
strange  uncanny  thing  that  seemed  to  hold  his 
hands,  turn  all  muscular  strivings  to  water, 
and  laugh  at  him  all  the  time;  while  other  trav- 
ellers, forming  up  in  a  line  behind,  waited  with 
impatience,  making  suggestions  of  more  or  less 
value  and  comments  of  more  or  less  stringency 
and  point.  At  last  -  -  somehow  -  -  he  never 
rightly  understood  how  —  he  burst  the  barriers, 
attained  the  goal,  arrived  at  where  all  waistcoat 
pockets  are  eternally  situated,  and  found  -  -  not 
only  no  money,  but  no  pocket  to  hold  it,  and  no 
waistcoat  to  hold  the  pocket! 

To  his  horror  he  recollected  that  he  had  left 
both  coat  and  waistcoat  behind  him  in  his  cell, 
and  with  them  his  pocket-book,  money,  keys, 
watch,  matches,  pencil-case  -  -  all  that  makes  life 
worth  living,  all  that  distinguishes  the  many- 
pocketed  animal,  the  lord  of  creation,  from  the 

207 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

inferior  one-pocketed  or  no-pocketed  produc- 
tions that  hop  or  trip  about  permissively,  un- 
equipped for  the  real  contest. 

In  his  misery  he  made  one  desperate  effort  to 
carry  the  thing  off,  and,  with  a  return  to  his  fine 
old  manner  -  -  a  blend  of  the  Squire  and  the 
College  Don  -  -  he  said,  'Look  here!  I  find  I 've 
left  my  purse  behind.  Just  give  me  that  ticket, 
will  you,  and  I  '11  send  the  money  on  to-morrow? 
I  'm  well-kno\vn  in  these  parts." 

The  clerk  stared  at  him  and  the  rusty  black 
bonnet  a  moment,  and  then  laughed.  :'I  should 
think  you  were  pretty  well  known  in  these 
parts,"  he  said,  ':'if  you  've  tried  this  game  on 
often.  Here,  stand  away  from  the  window, 
please,  madam;  you  're  obstructing  the  other 
passengers!" 

An  old  gentleman  who  had  been  prodding 
him  in  the  back  for  some  moments  here  thrust 
him  away,  and,  what  was  worse,  addressed  him 
as  his  good  woman,  which  angered  Toad  more 
than  anything  that  had  occurred  that  evening. 

Baffled  and  full  of  despair,  he  wandered 
blindly  down  the  platform  where  the  train  was 

208 


TOAD'S   ADVENTURES 

standing,  and  tears  trickled  down  each  side  of 
his  nose.  It  was  hard,  he  thought,  to  be  within 
sight  of  safety  and  almost  of  home,  and  to  be 
baulked  by  the  want  of  a  few  wretched  shillings 
and  by  the  pettifogging  mistrustfulness  of  paid 
officials.  Very  soon  his  escape  would  be  dis- 
covered, the  hunt  would  be  up,  he  would  be 
caught,  reviled,  loaded  with  chains,  dragged 
back  again  to  prison  and  bread-and-water  and 
straw;  his  guards  and  penalties  would  be 
doubled;  and  O,  what  sarcastic  remarks  the 
girl  would  make!  What  was  to  be  done?  He 
was  not  swift  of  foot;  his  figure  was  unfortu- 
nately recognisable.  Could  he  not  squeeze  under 
the  seat  of  a  carriage?  He  had  seen  this  method 
adopted  by  schoolboys,  when  the  journey-money 
provided  by  thoughtful  parents  had  been  di- 
verted to  other  and  better  ends.  As  he  pondered, 
he  found  himself  opposite  the  engine,  which  was 
being  oiled,  wiped,  and  generally  caressed  by  its 
affectionate  driver,  a  burly  man  with  an  oil-can 
in  one  hand  and  a  lump  of  cotton-waste  in  the 
other. 

"Hullo,    mother!"     said    the    engine-driver, 

209 


THE    AVI  XI)    IN    THE   WILLOWS 

"what's  the  trouble?     You  don't  look  particu- 
larly cheerful." 

"O,  sir!"  said  Toad,  crying  afresh,  "I  am  a 
poor  unhappy  washerwoman,  and  I  've  lost  all 
my  money,  and  can't  pay  for  a  ticket,  and  I 
must  get  home  to-night  somehow,  and  whatever 
I  am  to  do  I  don't  know.  O  dear,  O  dear!" 

"That 's  a  bad  business,   indeed,"   said  the 
engine-driver  reflectively.       'Lost  your  money 
—  and  can't  get  home  —  and  got  some  kids,  too, 
waiting  for  you,  I  dare  say?'' 

"Any  amount  of  'em,"  sobbed  Toad.  "And 
they  '11  be  hungry  -  -  and  playing  with  matches 

-and  upsetting  lamps,  the  little  innocents !- 
and  quarrelling,  and  going  on  generally.    O  dear, 
O  dear!" 

"Well,  I'll  tell  you  what  I'll  do,"  said  the 
good  engine-driver.  'You  're  a  washerwoman 
to  your  trade,  says  you.  Very  well,  that 's  that. 
And  I  'm  an  engine-driver,  as  you  well  may  see, 
and  there  's  no  denying  it 's  terribly  dirty  work. 
Uses  up  a  power  of  shirts,  it  does,  till  my 
missus  is  fair  tired  of  washing  of  'em.  If  you  '11 
wash  a  few  shirts  for  me  when  you  get  home, 

210 


TOAD'S   ADVENTURES 

and  send  'em  along,  I  '11  give  you  a  ride  on 
my  engine.  It 's  against  the  Company's  regula- 
tions, but  we  're  not  so  very  particular  in  these 
out-of-the-way  parts." 

The  Toad's  misery  turned  into  rapture  as 
he  eagerly  scrambled  up  into  the  cab  of  the 
engine.  Of  course,  he  had  never  washed  a  shirt 
in  his  life,  and  couldn't  if  he  tried  and,  anyhow, 
he  wasn't  going  to  begin;  but  he  thought: 
"When  I  get  safely  home  to  Toad  Hall,  and  have 
money  again,  and  pockets  to  put  it  in,  I  will 
send  the  engine-driver  enough  to  pay  for  quite  a 
quantity  of  washing,  and  that  will  be  the  same 
thing,  or  better." 

The  guard  waved  his  welcome  flag,  the  engine- 
driver  whistled  in  cheerful  response,  and  the 
train  moved  out  of  the  station.  As  the  speed 
increased,  and  the  Toad  could  see  on  either  side 
of  him  real  fields,  and  trees,  and  hedges,  and 
cows,  and  horses,  all  flying  past  him,  and  as  he 
thought  how  every  minute  was  bringing  him 
nearer  to  Toad  Hall,  and  sympathetic  friends, 
and  money  to  chink  in  his  pocket,  and  a  soft 
bed  to  sleep  in,  and  good  things  to  eat,  and 

211 


THE    WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

praise  and  admiration  at  the  recital  of  his 
adventures  and  his  surpassing  cleverness,  he  be- 
gan to  skip  up  and  down  and  shout  and  sing 
snatches  of  song,  to  the  great  astonishment  of 
the  engine-driver,  who  had  come  across  washer- 
women before,  at  long  intervals,  but  never  one 
at  all  like  this. 

They  had  covered  many  and  many  a  mile, 
and  Toad  was  already  considering  what  he 
would  have  for  supper  as  soon  as  he  got  home, 
when  he  noticed  that  the  engine-driver,  with 
a  puzzled  expression  on  his  face,  was  leaning 
over  the  side  of  the  engine  and  listening  hard. 
Then  he  saw  him  climb  on  to  the  coals  and  gaze 
out  over  the  top  of  the  train;  then  he  returned 
and  said  to  Toad:  :'It  's  very  strange;  we  're  the 
last  train  running  in  this  direction  to-night,  yet 
I  could  be  sworn  that  I  heard  another  following 
us!" 

Toad  ceased  his  frivolous  antics  at  once.  He 
became  grave  and  depressed,  and  a  dull  pain  in 
the  lower  part  of  his  spine,  communicating  itself 
to  his  legs,  made  him  want  to  sit  down  and  try 
desperately  not  to  think  of  all  the  possibilities. 

212 


TOAD'S   ADVENTURES 

By  this  time  the  moon  was  shining  brightly, 
and  the  engine-driver,  steadying  himself  on  the 
coal,  could  command  a  view  of  the  line  behind 
them  for  a  long  distance. 

Presently  he  called  out,  "I  can  see  it  clearly 
now!  It  is  an  engine,  on  our  rails,  coming 
along  at  a  great  pace!  It  looks  as  if  we  were 
being  pursued!" 

The  miserable  Toad,  crouching  in  the  coal- 
dust,  tried  hard  to  think  of  something  to  do, 
with  dismal  want  of  success. 

'They  are  gaining  on  us  fast!"  cried  the 
engine-driver.  "And  the  engine  is  crowded 
with  the  queerest  lot  of  people!  Men  like 
ancient  warders,  waving  halberds;  policemen 
in  their  helmets,  waving  truncheons;  and  shab- 
bily dressed  men  in  pot-hats,  obvious  and  unmis- 
takable plain-clothes  detectives  even  at  this 
distance,  waving  revolvers  and  walking-sticks; 
all  waving,  and  all  shouting  the  same  thing  — 
'Stop,  stop,  stop!' 

Then  Toad  fell  on  his  knees  among  the  coals, 
and,  raising  his  clasped  paws  in  supplication, 
cried,  "Save  me,  only  save  me,  dear  kind  Mr. 

213 


THE   WIND    IN    THE   WILLOWS 

Engine-driver,  and  I  will  confess  everything!  I 
am  not  the  simple  washerwoman  I  seem  to  be! 
I  have  no  children  waiting  for  me,  innocent  or 
otherwise !  I  am  a  toad  -  -  the  well-known  and 
popular  Mr.  Toad,  a  landed  proprietor;  I  have 
just  escaped,  by  my  great  daring  and  clever- 
ness, from  a  loathsome  dungeon  into  which  my 
enemies  had  flung  me;  and  if  those  fellows  on 
that  engine  recapture  me,  it  will  be  chains  and 
bread-and-water  and  straw  and  misery  once 
more  for  poor,  unhappy,  innocent  Toad!" 

The  engine-driver  looked  down  upon  him  very 
sternly,  and  said,  "Now  tell  the  truth;  what 
were  you  put  in  prison  for?" 

'It  was  nothing  very  much,"  said  poor  Toad, 
colouring  deeply.  "I  only  borrowed  a  motor- 
car while  the  owners  were  at  lunch;  they  had 
no  need  of  it  at  the  time.  I  didn't  mean  to 
steal  it,  really;  but  people  —  especially  magis- 
trates —  take  such  harsh  views  of  thoughtless 
and  high-spirited  actions." 

The  engine-driver  looked  very  grave  and  said, 

'I  fear  that  you  have  been  indeed  a  wicked 

toad,  and  by  rights  I  ought  to  give  you  up  to 

214 


TOAD'S   ADVENTURES 

offended  justice.  But  you  are  evidently  in  sore 
trouble  and  distress,  so  I  will  not  desert  you.  I 
don't  hold  with  motor-cars,  for  one  thing;  and 
I  don't  hold  with  being  ordered  about  by  police- 
men when  I  'm  on  niy  own  engine,  for  another. 
And  the  sight  of  an  animal  in  tears  always 
makes  me  feel  queer  and  soft-hearted.  So  cheer 
up,  Toad!  I  '11  do  my  best,  and  we  may  beat 
them  yet!" 

They  piled  on  more  coals,  shovelling  furiously; 
the  furnace  roared,  the  sparks  flew,  the  engine 
leapt  and  swung,  but  still  their  pursuers  slowly 
gained.  The  engine-driver,  with  a  sigh,  wiped 
his  brow  with  a  handful  of  cotton-waste,  and 
said,  "I  'm  afraid  it 's  no  good,  Toad.  You  see, 
they  are  running  light,  and  they  have  the  better 
engine.  There  's  just  one  thing  left  for  us  to 
do,  and  it 's  your  only  chance,  so  attend  very 
carefully  to  what  I  tell  you.  A  short  way  ahead 
of  us  is  a  long  tunnel,  and  on  the  other  side  of 
that  the  line  passes  through  a  thick  wood. 
Now,  I  will  put  on  all  the  speed  I  can  while 
we  are  running  through  the  tunnel,  but  the 
other  fellows  will  slow  down  a  bit,  naturally, 

215 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

for  fear  of  an  accident.  When  we  are  through, 
I  will  shut  off  steam  and  put  on  brakes  as  hard 
as  I  can,  and  the  moment  it 's  safe  to  do  so  you 
must  jump  and  hide  in  the  wood,  before  they 
get  through  the  tunnel  and  see  you.  Then  I  will 
go  full  speed  ahead  again,  and  they  can  chase  me 
if  they  like,  for  as  long  as  they  like,  and  as  far 
as  they  like.  Now  mind  and  be  ready  to  jump 
when  I  tell  you!" 

They  piled  on  more  coals,  and  the  train  shot 
into  the  tunnel,  and  the  engine  rushed  and 
roared  and  rattled,  till  at  last  they  shot  out  at 
the  other  end  into  fresh  air  and  the  peaceful 
moonlight,  and  saw  the  wood  lying  dark  and 
helpful  upon  either  side  of  the  line.  The  driver 
shut  off  steam  and  put  on  brakes,  the  Toad  got 
down  on  the  step,  and  as  the  train  slowed  down 
to  almost  a  walking  pace  he  heard  the  driver 
call  out,  "Now,  jump!  ' 

Toad  jumped,  rolled  down  a  short  embank- 
ment, picked  himself  up  unhurt,  scrambled  into 
the  wood  and  hid. 

Peeping  out,  he  saw  his  train  get  up  speed 
again  and  disappear  at  a  great  pace.  Then 

216 


TOAD'S   ADVENTURES 

out  of  the  tunnel  burst  the  pursuing  engine, 
roaring  and  whistling,  her  motley  crew  waving 
their  various  weapons  and  shouting,  "Stop! 
stop!  stop!"  When  they  were  past,  the  Toad 
had  a  hearty  laugh  -  -  for  the  first  time  since  he 
was  thrown  into  prison. 

But  he  soon  stopped  laughing  when  he  came 
to  consider  that  it  was  now  very  late  and  dark 
and  cold,  and  he  was  in  an  unknown  wood, 
with  no  money  and  no  chance  of  supper,  and 
still  far  from  friends  and  home;  and  the  dead 
silence  of  everything,  after  the  roar  and  rattle 
of  the  train,  was  something  of  a  shock.  He 
dared  not  leave  the  shelter  of  the  trees,  so  he 
struck  into  the  wood,  with  the  idea  of  leaving 
the  railway  as  far  as  possible  behind  him. 

After  so  many  weeks  within  walls,  he  found 
the  wood  strange  and  unfriendly  and  inclined, 
he  thought,  to  make  fun  of  him.  Night-jars, 
sounding  their  mechanical  rattle,  made  him 
think  that  the  wood  was  full  of  searching 
warders,  closing  in  on  him.  An  owl,  swooping 
noiselessly  towards  him,  brushed  his  shoulder 
with  its  wing,  making  him  jump  with  the 

217 


THE    WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

horrid  certainty  that  it  was  a  hand;  then  flitted 
off,  moth-like,  laughing  its  low  ho!  ho!  ho! 
which  Toad  thought  in  very  poor  taste.  Once 
he  met  a  fox,  who  stopped,  looked  him  up  and 
down  in  a  sarcastic  sort  of  way,  and  said, 
"Hullo,  washerwoman!  Half  a  pair  of  socks 
and  a  pillow-case  short  this  week!  Mind  it 
doesn't  occur  again!"  and  swaggered  off,  snig- 
gering. Toad  looked  about  for  a  stone  to  throw 
at  him,  but  could  not  succeed  in  finding  one, 
which  vexed  him  more  than  anything.  At  last, 
cold,  hungry,  and  tired  out,  he  sought  the 
shelter  of  a  hollow  tree,  where  with  branches 
and  dead  leaves  he  made  himself  as  comfortable 
a  bed  as  he  could,  and  slept  soundly  till  the 
morning. 


218 


IX 

WAYFARERS   ALL 


IX 

WAYFARERS   ALL 

THE  Water  Rat  was  restless,  and  he  did 
not  exactly  know  why.  To  all  appear- 
ance the  summer's  pomp  was  still  at  fullest 
height,  and  although  in  the  tilled  acres  green 
had  given  way  to  gold,  though  rowans  were  red- 
dening, and  the  woods  were  dashed  here  and 
there  with  a  tawny  fierceness,  yet  light  and 
warmth  and  colour  were  still  present  in  undi- 
minished  measure,  clean  of  any  chilly  premoni- 
tions of  the  passing  year.  But  the  constant 
chorus  of  the  orchards  and  hedges  had  shrunk 
to  a  casual  evensong  from  a  few  yet  unwearied 
performers;  the  robin  was  beginning  to  assert 
himself  once  more;  and  there  was  a  feeling  in 
the  air  of  change  and  departure.  The  cuckoo, 
of  course,  had  long  been  silent;  but  many  an- 
other feathered  friend,  for  months  a  part  of  the 
familiar  landscape  and  its  small  society,  was 

221 


THE    WIND    IN   THE    WILLOWS 

missing  too,  and  it  seemed  that  the  ranks  thinned 
steadily  day  by  day.  Rat,  ever  observant  of  all 
winged  movement,  saw  that  it  was  taking  daily 
a  southing  tendency;  and  even  as  he  lay  in  bed 
at  night  he  thought  he  could  make  out,  passing 
in  the  darkness  overhead,  the  beat  and  quiver 
of  impatient  pinions,  obedient  to  the  peremp- 
tory call. 

Nature's  Grand  Hotel  has  its  Season,  like  the 
others.  As  the  guests  one  by  one  pack,  pay, 
and  depart,  and  the  seats  at  the  table-d'hote 
shrink  pitifully  at  each  succeeding  meal;  as 
suites  of  rooms  are  closed,  carpets  taken  up, 
and  waiters  sent  away;  those  boarders  who  are 
staying  on,  en  pension,  until  the  next  year's  full 
re-opening,  cannot  help  being  somewhat  af- 
fected by  all  these  flitting^  and  farewells,  this 
eager  discussion  of  plans,  routes,  and  fresh  quar- 
ters, this  daily  shrinkage  in  the  stream  of  com- 
radeship. One  gets  unsettled,  depressed,  and 
inclined  to  be  querulous.  Why  this  craving  for 
change?  Why  not  stay  on  quietly  here,  like  us, 
and  be  jolly?  You  don't  know  this  hotel  out 
of  the  season,  and  what  fun  we  have  among  our- 

222 


WAYFARERS   ALL 

selves,  we  fellows  who  remain  and  see  the  whole 
interesting  year  out.  All  very  true,  no  doubt, 
the  others  always  reply ;  we  quite  envy  you  — 
and  some  other  year  perhaps  -  -  but  just  now  we 
have  engagements  —  and  there  's  the  bus  at  the 
door  —  our  time  is  up !  So  they  depart,  with  a 
smile  and  a  nod,  and  we  miss  them,  and  feel 
resentful.  The  Rat  was  a  self-sufficing  sort  of 
animal,  rooted  to  the  land,  and,  whoever  went, 
he  stayed;  still,  he  could  not  help  noticing  what 
was  in  the  air,  and  feeling  some  of  its  influence 
in  his  bones. 

It  was  difficult  to  settle  down  to  anything 
seriously,  with  all  this  flitting  going  on.  Leav- 
ing the  water-side,  where  rushes  stood  thick  and 
tall  in  a  stream  that  was  becoming  sluggish  and 
low,  he  wandered  country-wards,  crossed  a  field 
or  two  of  pasturage  already  looking  dusty  and 
parched,  and  thrust  into  the  great  sea  of  wheat, 
yellow,  wavy,  and  murmurous,  full  of  quiet 
motion  and  small  whisperings.  Here  he  often 
loved  to  wander,  through  the  forest  of  stiff 
strong  stalks  that  carried  their  own  golden  sky 
away  over  his  head  -  -  a  sky  that  was  always 

223 


THE   WIND   IN   THE   WILLOWS 

dancing,  shimmering,  softly  talking;  or  swaying 
strongly  to  the  passing  wind  and  recovering  it- 
self with  a  toss  and  a  merry  laugh.  Here,  too, 
he  had  many  small  friends,  a  society  complete 
in  itself,  leading  full  and  busy  lives,  but  always 
with  a  spare  moment  to  gossip,  and  exchange 
news  with  a  visitor.  To-day,  however,  though 
they  were  civil  enough,  the  field-mice  and  har- 
vest mice  seemed  preoccupied.  Many  were 
digging  and  tunnelling  busily;  others,  gathered 
together  in  small  groups,  examined  plans  and 
drawings  of  small  flats,  stated  to  be  desirable 
and  compact,  and  situated  conveniently  near 
the  Stores.  Some  were  hauling  out  dusty  trunks 
and  dress-baskets,  others  were  already  elbow- 
deep,  packing  their  belongings;  while  every- 
where piles  and  bundles  of  wheat,  oats,  barley, 
beech-mast  and  nuts,  lay  about  ready  for  trans- 
port. 

' Here's  old  Ratty!"  they  cried  as  soon  as 
they  saw  him.  :'Come  and  bear  a  hand,  Rat, 
and  don't  stand  about  idle!" 

'What  sort  of  games  are  you  up  to?"  said 
the  Water  Rat  severely.  "You  know  it  isn't 

224 


WAYFARERS   ALL 

time  to  be  thinking  of  winter  quarters  yet,  by  a 
long  way!" 

"O  yes,  we  know  that,"  explained  a  field- 
mouse  rather  shamefacedly;  ;<but  it 's  always 
as  well  to  be  in  good  time,  isn't  it?  We  really 
must  get  all  the  furniture  and  baggage  and 
stores  moved  out  of  this  before  those  horrid 
machines  begin  clicking  round  the  fields;  and 
then,  you  know,  the  best  flats  get  picked  up  so 
quickly  nowadays,  and  if  you  're  late  you  have 
to  put  up  with  anything;  and  they  want  such 
a  lot  of  doing  up,  too,  before  they  're  fit  to 
move  into.  Of  course,  we  're  early,  we  know 
that;  but  we  're  only  just  making  a  start." 

"O,  bother  starts,"  said  the  Rat.  "It's  a 
splendid  day.  Come  for  a  row,  or  a  stroll 
along  the  hedges,  or  a  picnic  in  the  woods,  or 
something." 

'Well,  I  think  not  to-day,  thank  you,"  replied 
the  field-mouse  hurriedly.  "Perhaps  some  other 
day  —  when  we  've  more  time  — " 

The  Rat,  with  a  snort  of  contempt,  swung 
round  to  go,  tripped  over  a  hat-box,  and  fell, 
with  undignified  remarks. 

225 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

"If  people  would  be  more  careful,"  said  a 
field-mouse  rather  stiffly,  "and  look  where 
they  're  going,  people  wouldn't  hurt  themselves 
-  and  forget  themselves.  Mind  that  hold-all, 
Rat!  You  'd  better  sit  down  somewhere.  In 
an  hour  or  t\vo  we  may  be  more  free  to  attend 
to  you." 

'You  won't  be  'free'  as  you  call  it,  much 
this  side  of  Christmas,  I  can  see  that,"  retorted 
the  Rat  grumpily,  as  he  picked  his  way  out  of 
the  field. 

He  returned  somewhat  despondently  to  his 
river  again  -  -  his  faithful,  steady-going  old  river, 
which  never  packed  up,  flitted,  or  went  into 
winter  quarters. 

In  the  osiers  which  fringed  the  bank  he  spied 
a  swallow  sitting.  Presently  it  was  joined  by 
another,  and  then  by  a  third;  and  the  birds, 
fidgeting  restlessly  on  their  bough,  talked  to- 
gether earnestly  and  low. 

'What,  already"  said  the  Rat,  strolling  up 
to  them.  'What 's  the  hurry?  I  call  it  simply 
ridiculous." 

0,  we  're  not  off  yet,  if  that 's  what  you 

226 


«•  - 


WAYFARERS   ALL 

mean,"  replied  the  first  swallow.  'We  're  only 
making  plans  and  arranging  things.  Talking  it 
over,  you  know  —  what  route  we  're  taking  this 
year,  and  where  we  '11  stop,  and  so  on.  That 's 
half  the  fun!" 

"Fun?"  said  the  Rat;  "now  that 's  just  what 
I  don't  understand.  If  you  've  got  to  leave  this 
pleasant  place,  and  your  friends  who  will  miss 
you,  and  your  snug  homes  that  you  've  just 
settled  into,  why,  when  the  hour  strikes  I  've  no 
doubt  you  '11  go  bravely,  and  face  all  the  trouble 
and  discomfort  and  change  and  newness,  and 
make  believe  that  you  're  not  very  unhappy. 
But  to  want  to  talk  about  it,  or  even  think 
about  it,  till  you  really  need  — 

"No,  you  don't  understand,  naturally,"  said 
the  second  swallow.  "First,  we  feel  it  stirring 
within  us,  a  sweet  unrest;  then  back  come  the 
recollections  one  by  one,  like  homing  pigeons. 
They  flutter  through  our  dreams  at  night,  they 
fly  with  us  in  our  wheelings  and  circlings  by 
day.  We  hunger  to  inquire  of  each  other,  to 
compare  notes  and  assure  ourselves  that  it  was 
all  really  true,  as  one  by  one  the  scents  and 

227 


THE    WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

sounds  and  names  of  long-forgotten  places  come 
gradually  back  and  beckon  to  us." 

"Couldn't  you  stop  on  for  just  this  year?'' 
suggested  the  Water  Rat,  wistfully.  "We  '11  all 
do  our  best  to  make  you  feel  at  home.  You  've 
no  idea  what  good  times  we  have  here,  while 
you  are  far  away." 

'I  tried  'stopping  on'  one  year,"  said  the 
third  swallow.  'I  had  grown  so  fond  of  the 
place  that  when  the  time  came  I  hung  back  and 
let  the  others  go  on  without  me.  For  a  few 
weeks  it  was  all  well  enough,  but  afterwards,  O 
the  weary  length  of  the  nights!  The  shivering, 
sunless  days!  The  air  so  clammy  and  chill, 
and  not  an  insect  in  an  acre  of  it!  No,  it  was 
no  good;  my  courage  broke  down,  and  one  cold, 
stormy  night  I  took  wing,  flying  well  inland 
on  account  of  the  strong  easterly  gales.  It  was 
snowing  hard  as  I  beat  through  the  passes  of 
the  great  mountains,  and  I  had  a  stiff  fight  to 
win  through;  but  never  shall  I  forget  the  bliss- 
ful feeling  of  the  hot  sun  again  on  my  back  as 
I  sped  down  to  the  lakes  that  lay  so  blue  and 
placid  below  me,  and  the  taste  of  my  first  fat 

228 


WAYFARERS   ALL 

insect!  The  past  was  like  a  bad  dream;  the 
future  was  all  happy  holiday  as  I  moved  south- 
wards week  by  week,  easily,  lazily,  lingering  as 
long  as  I  dared,  but  always  heeding  the  call! 
No,  I  had  had  my  warning;  never  again  did  I 
think  of  disobedience." 

"Ah,  yes,  the  call  of  the  South,  of  the  South!" 
twittered  the  other  two  dreamily.  "Its  songs, 
its  hues,  its  radiant  air!  O,  do  you  remember 
— "  and,  forgetting  the  Rat,  they  slid  into  pas- 
sionate reminiscence,  while  he  listened  fasci- 
nated, and  his  heart  burned  within  him.  In 
himself,  too,  he  knew  that  it  was  vibrating  at 
last,  that  chord  hitherto  dormant  and  unsus- 
pected. The  mere  chatter  of  these  southern- 
bound  birds,  their  pale  and  second-hand  reports, 
had  yet  power  to  awaken  this  wild  new  sensa- 
tion and  thrill  him  through  and  through  with 
it;  what  would  one  moment  of  the  real  thing 
work  in  him  -  -  one  passionate  touch  of  the  real 
southern  sun,  one  waft  of  the  authentic  odour? 
With  closed  eyes  he  dared  to  dream  a  moment 
in  full  abandonment,  and  when  he  looked  again 
the  river  seemed  steely  and  chill,  the  green 

229 


THE    WIND   IN    THE   WILLOWS 

fields  grey  and  lightless.  Then  his  loyal  heart 
seemed  to  cry  out  on  his  weaker  self  for  its 
treachery. 

"Why  do  you  ever  come  back,  then,  at  all?" 
he  demanded  of  the  swallows  jealously.  'What 
do  you  find  to  attract  you  in  this  poor  drab 
little  country?" 

"And  do  you  think,"  said  the  first  swallow, 
:'that  the  other  call  is  not  for  us  too,  in  its  due 
season?  The  call  of  lush  meadow-grass,  wet 
orchards,  warm,  insect-haunted  ponds,  of  brows- 
ing cattle,  of  haymaking,  and  all  the  farm- 
buildings  clustering  round  the  House  of  the 
perfect  Eaves?" 

'Do  you  suppose,"  asked  the  second  one, 
'that  you  are  the  only  living  thing  that  craves 
with  a  hungry  longing  to  hear  the  cuckoo's  note 
again?" 

:'In  due  time,"  said  the  third,  "we  shall  be 
home-sick  once  more  for  quiet  water-lilies  sway- 
ing on  the  surface  of  an  English  stream.  But 
to-day  all  that  seems  pale  and  thin  and  very 
far  away.  Just  now  our  blood  dances  to  other 


music.' 


230 


WAYFARERS   ALL 

They  fell  a-twittering  among  themselves  once 
more,  and  this  time  their  intoxicating  babble 
was  of  violet  seas,  tawny  sands,  and  lizard- 
haunted  walls. 

Restlessly  the  Rat  wandered  off  once  more, 
climbed  the  slope  that  rose  gently  from  the 
north  bank  of  the  river,  and  lay  looking  out 
towards  the  great  ring  of  Downs  that  barred 
his  vision  further  southwards  —  his  simple  hori- 
zon hitherto,  his  Mountains  of  the  Moon,  his 
limit  behind  which  lay  nothing  he  had  cared  to 
see  or  to  know.  To-day,  to  him  gazing  South 
with  a  new-born  need  stirring  in  his  heart,  the 
clear  sky  over  their  long  low  outline  seemed  to 
pulsate  with  promise;  to-day,  the  unseen  was 
everything,  the  unknown  the  only  real  fact  of 
life.  On  this  side  of  the  hills  was  now  the  real 
blank,  on  the  other  lay  the  crowded  and  col- 
oured panorama  that  his  inner  eye  was  seeing  so 
clearly.  What  seas  lay  beyond,  green,  leaping, 
and  crested!  What  sun-bathed  coasts,  along 
which  the  white  villas  glittered  against  the  olive 
woods!  What  quiet  harbours,  thronged  with 
gallant  shipping  bound  for  purple  islands  of 

231 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

wine  and  spice,  islands  set  low  in  languorous 
waters ! 

He  rose  and  descended  river-wards  once  more; 
then  changed  his  mind  and  sought  the  side  of 
the  dusty  lane.  There,  lying  half-buried  in  the 
thick,  cool  under-hedge  tangle  that  bordered  it, 
he  could  muse  on  the  metalled  road  and  all  the 
wondrous  world  that  it  led  to;  on  all  the  way- 
farers, too,  that  might  have  trodden  it,  and  the 
fortunes  and  adventures  they  had  gone  to  seek 
or  found  unseeking  —  out  there,  beyond  —  be- 
yond! 

Footsteps  fell  on  his  ear,  and  the  figure  of 
one  that  walked  somewhat  wearily  came  into 
view;  and  he  saw  that  it  was  a  Rat,  and  a  very 
dusty  one.  The  wayfarer,  as  he  reached  him, 
saluted  with  a  gesture  of  courtesy  that  had 
something  foreign  about  it  —  hesitated  a  mo- 
ment -  -  then  with  a  pleasant  smile  turned  from 
the  track  and  sat  down  by  his  side  in  the  cool 
herbage.  He  seemed  tired,  and  the  Rat  let 
him  rest  unquestioned,  understanding  something 
of  what  was  in  his  thoughts;  knowing,  too,  the 
value  all  animals  attach  at  times  to  mere  silent 

232 


WAYFARERS   ALL 

companionship,  when  the  weary  muscles  slacken 
and  the  mind  marks  time. 

The  wayfarer  was  lean  and  keen-featured, 
and  somewhat  bowed  at  the  shoulders;  his 
paws  were  thin  and  long,  his  eyes  much  wrinkled 
at  the  corners,  and  he  wore  small  gold  ear  rings 
in  his  neatly-set  well-shaped  ears.  His  knitted 
jersey  was  of  a  faded  blue,  his  breeches,  patched 
and  stained,  were  based  on  a  blue  foundation, 
and  his  small  belongings  that  he  carried  were 
tied  up  in  a  blue  cotton  handkerchief. 

When  he  had  rested  awhile  the  stranger 
sighed,  snuffed  the  air,  and  looked  about  him. 

"That  was  clover,  that  warm  whiff  on  the 
breeze,"  he  remarked;  "and  those  are  cows  we 
hear  cropping  the  grass  behind  us  and  blowing 
softly  between  mouthfuls.  There  is  a  sound  of 
distant  reapers,  and  yonder  rises  a  blue  line  of 
cottage  smoke  against  the  woodland.  The  river 
runs  somewhere  close  by,  for  I  hear  the  call 
of  a  moorhen,  and  I  see  by  your  build  that 
you  're  a  freshwater  mariner.  Everything  seems 
asleep,  and  yet  going  on  all  the  time.  It  is  a 
goodly  life  that  you  lead,  friend;  no  doubt  the 

233 


THE   WIND   IN   THE   WILLOWS 

best  in  the  world,  if  only  you  are  strong  enough 
to  lead  it!" 

"Yes,  it 's  the  life,  the  only  life,  to  live,"  re- 
sponded the  Water  Rat  dreamily,  and  without 
his  usual  whole-hearted  conviction. 

"I  did  not  say  exactly  that,"  replied  the 
stranger  cautiously;  :'but  no  doubt  it 's  the 
best.  I  've  tried  it,  and  I  know.  And  because 
I  've  just  tried  it  —  six  months  of  it  -  -  and 
know  it 's  the  best,  here  am  I,  footsore  and 
hungry,  tramping  away  from  it,  tramping  south- 
wards, following  the  old  call,  back  to  the  old  life, 
the  life  which  is  mine  and  which  will  not  let 
me  go." 

"Is  this,  then,  yet  another  of  them?"  mused 
the  Rat.  "And  where  have  you  just  come 
from?  "  he  asked.  He  hardly  dared  to  ask  where 
he  was  bound  for;  he  seemed  to  know  the 
answer  only  too  well. 

"Nice  little  farm,"  replied  the  wayfarer, 
briefly.  "  Upalong  in  that  direction-  he  nod- 
ded northwards.  ''Never  mind  about  it.  I 
had  everything  I  could  want  -  -  everything  I 
had  any  right  to  expect  of  life,  and  more;  and 

234 


WAYFARERS    ALL 

here  I  am!  Glad  to  be  here  all  the  same, 
though,  glad  to  be  here!  So  many  miles  further 
on  the  road,  so  many  hours  nearer  to  my  heart's 
desire!" 

His  shining  eyes  held  fast  to  the  horizon, 
and  he  seemed  to  be  listening  for  some  sound 
that  was  wanting  from  that  inland  acreage, 
vocal  as  it  was  with  the  cheerful  music  of 
pasturage  and  farmyard. 

"You  are  not  one  of  us"  said  the  Water  Rat, 
"nor  yet  a  farmer;  nor  even,  I  should  judge,  of 
this  country." 

"Right,"  replied  the  stranger.  "I  'm  a  sea- 
faring rat,  I  am,  and  the  port  I  originally  hail 
from  is  Constantinople,  though  I  'm  a  sort  of 
a  foreigner  there  too,  in  a  manner  of  speaking. 
You  will  have  heard  of  Constantinople,  friend? 
A  fair  city  and  an  ancient  and  glorious  one. 
And  you  may  have  heard  too,  of  Sigurd,  King 
of  Norway,  and  how  he  sailed  thither  with  sixty 
ships,  and  how  he  and  his  men  rode  up  through 
streets  all  canopied  in  their  honour  with  purple 
and  gold;  and  how  the  Emperor  and  Empress 
came  down  and  banqueted  with  him  on  board 

235 


THE    WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

his  ship.  When  Sigurd  returned  home,  many  of 
his  Northmen  remained  behind  and  entered  the 
Emperor's  body-guard,  and  my  ancestor,  a  Nor- 
wegian born,  stayed  behind  too,  with  the  ships 
that  Sigurd  gave  the  Emperor.  Seafarers  we 
have  ever  been,  and  no  wonder;  as  for  me,  the 
city  of  my  birth  is  no  more  my  home  than  any 
pleasant  port  between  there  and  the  London 
River.  I  know  them  all,  and  they  know  me. 
Set  me  down  on  any  of  their  quays  or  foreshores, 
and  I  am  home  again." 

"I  suppose  you  go  great  voyages,"  said  the 
Water  Rat  writh  growing  interest.  "Months 
and  months  out  of  sight  of  land,  and  provisions 
running  short,  and  allowanced  as  to  water,  and 
your  mind  communing  with  the  mighty  ocean, 
and  all  that  sort  of  thing?" 

"By  no  means,"  said  the  Sea  Rat  frankly. 
"Such  a  life  as  you  describe  would  not  suit 
me  at  all.  I  'm  in  the  coasting  trade,  and  rarely 
out  of  sight  of  land.  It 's  the  jolly  times  on 
shore  that  appeal  to  me,  as  much  as  any  sea- 
faring. O,  those  southern  seaports!  The  smell 
of  them,  the  riding-lights  at  night,  the  glamour!" 

236 


WAYFARERS   ALL 

"  Well,  perhaps  you  have  chosen  the  better 
way,"  said  the  Water  Rat,  but  rather  doubtfully. 
"Tell  me  something  of  your  coasting,  then,  if 
you  have  a  mind  to,  and  what  sort  of  harvest 
an  animal  of  spirit  might  hope  to  bring  home 
from  it  to  warm  his  latter  days  with  gallant 
memories  by  the  fireside;  for  my  life,  I  confess 
to  you,  feels  to  me  to-day  somewhat  narrow 
and  circumscribed." 

"My  last  voyage,"  began  the  Sea  Rat,  "that 
landed  me  eventually  in  this  country,  bound 
with  high  hopes  for  my  inland  farm,  will  serve 
as  a  good  example  of  any  of  them,  and,  indeed, 
as  an  epitome  of  my  highly-coloured  life.  Fam- 
ily troubles,  as  usual,  began  it.  The  domestic 
storm-cone  was  hoisted,  and  I  shipped  myself 
on  board  a  small  trading  vessel  bound  from  Con- 
stantinople, by  classic  seas  whose  every  wave 
throbs  with  a  deathless  memory,  to  the  Grecian 
Islands  and  the  Levant.  Those  were  golden 
days  and  balmy  nights!  In  and  out  of  harbour 
all  the  time  —  old  friends  everywhere  —  sleep- 
ing in  some  cool  temple  or  ruined  cistern  during 
the  heat  of  the  day  -  -  feasting  and  song  after 

237 


THE   AVINB   IN   THE   WILLOWS 

sundown,  under  great  stars  set  in  a  velvet  sky! 
Thence  we  turned  and  coasted  up  the  Adriatic, 
its  shores  swimming  in  an  atmosphere  of  amber, 
rose,  and  aquamarine;  we  lay  in  wide  land- 
locked harbours,  we  roamed  through  ancient  and 
noble  cities,  until  at  last  one  morning,  as  the  sun 
rose  royally  behind  us,  we  rode  into  Venice  down 
a  path  of  gold.  O,  Venice  is  a  fine  city,  wherein 
a  rat  can  wander  at  his  ease  and  take  his  pleas- 
ure! Or,  when  \veary  of  wandering,  can  sit  at 
the  edge  of  the  Grand  Canal  at  night,  feasting 
with  his  friends,  when  the  air  is  full  of  music 
and  the  sky  full  of  stars,  and  the  lights  flash 
and  shimmer  on  the  polished  steel  prows  of  the 
swaying  gondolas,  packed  so  that  you  could 
walk  across  the  canal  on  them  from  side  to  side! 
And  then  the  food  -  -  do  you  like  shell-fish? 
Well,  well,  we  won't  linger  over  that  now." 

He  was  silent  for  a  time;  and  the  Water  Rat, 
silent  too  and  enthralled,  floated  on  dream- 
canals  and  heard  a  phantom  song  pealing  high 
between  vaporous  grey  wave-lapped  walls. 

"Southwards  we  sailed  again  at  last,"  con- 
tinued the  Sea  Rat,  "coasting  down  the  Italian 

238 


WAYFARERS   ALL 

shore,  till  finally  we  made  Palermo,  and  there  I 
quitted  for  a  long,  happy  spell  on  shore.  I 
never  stick  too  long  to  one  ship;  one  gets 
narrow-minded  and  prejudiced.  Besides,  Sicily 
is  one  of  my  happy  hunting-grounds.  I  know 
everybody  there,  and  their  ways  just  suit  me. 
I  spent  many  jolly  weeks  in  the  island,  staying 
with  friends  upcountry.  When  I  grew  restless 
again  I  took  advantage  of  a  ship  that  was  trading 
to  Sardinia  and  Corsica;  and  very  glad  I  was 
to  feel  the  fresh  breeze  and  the  sea-spray  in  my 
face  once  more." 

:'But  isn't  it  very  hot  and  stuffy,  down  in  the 
-hold,  I  think  you  call  it?"  asked  the  Water 
Rat. 

The  seafarer  looked  at  him  with  the  suspicion 
of  a  wink.  "I  'm  an  old  hand,"  he  remarked 
with  much  simplicity.  'The  captain's  cabin  's 
good  enough  for  me." 

'It 's  a  hard  life,  by  all  accounts,"  murmured 
the  Rat,  sunk  in  deep  thought. 

'For   the   crew   it   is,"    replied   the   seafarer 
gravely,  again  with  the  ghost  of  a  wink. 

'From  Corsica,"  he  went  on,  "I  made  use  of 

239 


THE    WIND    IN   THE   WALLOWS 

a  ship  that  was  taking  wine  to  the  mainland. 
We  made  Alassio  in  the  evening,  lay  to,  hauled 
up  our  wine-casks,  and  hove  them  overboard, 
tied  one  to  the  other  by  a  long  line.  Then  the 
crew  took  to  the  boats  and  rowed  shorewards, 
singing  as  they  went,  and  drawing  after  them 
the  long  bobbing  procession  of  casks,  like  a 
mile  of  porpoises.  On  the  sands  they  had 
horses  waiting,  which  dragged  the  casks  up  the 
steep  street  of  the  little  town  with  a  fine  rush 
and  clatter  and  scramble.  When  the  last  cask 
was  in,  we  went  and  refreshed  and  rested,  and 
sat  late  into  the  night,  drinking  with  our 
friends,  and  next  morning  I  took  to  the  great 
olive-woods  for  a  spell  and  a  rest.  For  now  I 
had  done  with  islands  for  the  time,  and  ports 
and  shipping  were  plentiful;  so  I  led  a  lazy  life 
among  the  peasants,  lying  and  watching  them 
work,  or  stretched  high  on  the  hillside  \vith  the 
blue  Mediterranean  far  below  me.  And  so  at 
length,  by  easy  stages,  and  partly  on  foot, 
partly  by  sea,  to  Marseilles,  and  the  meeting  of 
old  shipmates,  and  the  visiting  of  great  ocean- 
bound  vessels,  and  feasting  once  more.  Talk 

240 


It'.i  it  liiinl  lij'i',  lit/  nil  accounts," 

»i  it  mi  nrcil  tin-  Jldt 


WAYFARERS   ALL 

of  shell-fish!  Why,  sometimes  I  dream  of  the 
shell-fish  of  Marseilles,  and  wake  up  crying!" 

"That  reminds  me,"  said  the  polite  Water 
Rat;  "you  happened  to  mention  that  you  were 
hungry,  and  I  ought  to  have  spoken  earlier. 
Of  course,  you  will  stop  and  take  your  midday 
meal  with  me?  My  hole  is  close  by;  it  is  some 
time  past  noon,  and  you  are  very  welcome  to 
whatever  there  is." 

"Now  I  call  that  kind  and  brotherly  of  you," 
said  the  Sea  Rat.  "I  was  indeed  hungry  when 
I  sat  down,  and  ever  since  I  inadvertently 
happened  to  mention  shell-fish,  my  pangs  have 
been  extreme.  But  couldn't  you  fetch  it  along 
out  here?  I  am  none  too  fond  of  going  under 
hatches,  unless  I  'm  obliged  to;  and  then,  while 
we  eat,  I  could  tell  you  more  concerning  my 
voyages  and  the  pleasant  life  I  lead  —  at  least, 
it  is  very  pleasant  to  me,  and  by  your  attention 
I  judge  it  commends  itself  to  you;  whereas  if 
we  go  indoors  it  is  a  hundred  to  one  that  I  shall 
presently  fall  asleep." 

'That  is  indeed  an  excellent  suggestion,"  said 
the  \Vater  Rat,  and  hurried  off  home.  There 

241 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

he  got  out  the  luncheon-basket  and  packed  a 
simple  meal,  in  which,  remembering  the  stran- 
ger's origin  and  preferences,  he  took  care  to 
include  a  yard  of  long  French  bread,  a  sausage 
out  of  which  the  garlic  sang,  some  cheese  which 
lay  down  and  cried,  and  a  long-necked  straw- 
covered  flask  wherein  lay  bottled  sunshine  shed 
and  garnered  on  far  Southern  slopes.  Thus 
laden,  he  returned  with  all  speed,  and  blushed 
for  pleasure  at  the  old  seaman's  commendations 
of  his  taste  and  judgment,  as  together  they 
unpacked  the  basket  and  laid  out  the  contents 
on  the  grass  by  the  roadside. 

The  Sea  Rat,  as  soon  as  his  hunger  was  some- 
what assuaged,  continued  the  history  of  his 
latest  voyage,  conducting  his  simple  hearer  from 
port  to  port  of  Spain,  landing  him  at  Lisbon, 
Oporto,  and  Bordeaux,  introducing  him  to  the 
pleasant  harbours  of  Cornwall  and  Devon,  and 
so  up  the  Channel  to  that  final  quayside,  where, 
landing  after  winds  long  contrary,  storm-driven 
and  weather-beaten,  he  had  caught  the  first 
magical  hints  and  heraldings  of  another  Spring, 
and,  fired  by  these,  had  sped  on  a  long  tramp 

242 


WAYFARERS   ALL 

inland,  hungry  for  the  experiment  of  life  on 
some  quiet  farmstead,  very  far  from  the  weary 
beating  of  any  sea. 

Spell-bound  and  quivering  with  excitement, 
the  Water  Rat  followed  the  Adventurer  league 
by  league,  over  stormy  bays,  through  crowded 
roadsteads,  across  harbour  .bars  on  a  racing  tide, 
up  winding  rivers  that  hid  their  busy  little  towns 
round  a  sudden  turn;  and  left  him  with  a 
regretful  sigh  planted  at  his  dull  inland  farm, 
about  which  he  desired  to  hear  nothing. 

By  this  time  their  meal  was  over,  and  the  Sea- 
farer, refreshed  and  strengthened,  his  voice  more 
vibrant,  his  eye  lit  with  a  brightness  that 
seemed  caught  from  some  far-away  sea-beacon, 
filled  his  glass  with  the  red  and  glowing  vintage 
of  the  South,  and,  leaning  towards  the  Water 
Rat,  compelled  his  gaze  and  held  him,  body  and 
soul,  while  he  talked.  Those  eyes  were  of  the 
changing  foam-streaked  grey-green  of  leaping 
Northern  seas;  in  the  glass  shone  a  hot  ruby 
that  seemed  the  very  heart  of  the  South,  beating 
for  him  who  had  courage  to  respond  to  its 
pulsation.  The  twin  lights,  the  shifting  grey 

243 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

and  the  steadfast  red,  mastered  the  Water  Rat 
and  held  him  bound,  fascinated,  powerless.  The 
quiet  world  outside  their  rays  receded  far  away 
and  ceased  to  be.  And  the  talk,  the  wonderful 
talk  flo\ved  on  -  -  or  was  it  speech  entirely,  or 
did  it  pass  at  times  into  song  -  -  chanty  of  the 
sailors  weighing  the  dripping  anchor,  sonorous 
hum  of  the  shrouds  in  a  tearing  North-Easter, 
ballad  of  the  fisherman  hauling  his  nets  at  sun- 
dowrn  against  an  apricot  sky,  chords  of  guitar 
and  mandoline  from  gondola  or  caique?  Did 
it  change  into  the  cry  of  the  wind,  plaintive  at 
first,  angrily  shrill  as  it  freshened,  rising  to  a 
tearing  whistle,  sinking  to  a  musical  trickle  of 
air  from  the  leech  of  the  bellying  sail?  All 
these  sounds  the  spell-bound  listener  seemed  to 
hear,  and  with  them  the  hungry  complaint  of 
the  gulls  and  the  sea-mews,  the  soft  thunder  of 
the  breaking  wave,  the  cry  of  the  protesting 
shingle.  Back  into  speech  again  it  passed,  and 
with  beating  heart  he  was  following  the  adven- 
tures of  a  dozen  seaports,  the  fights,  the  es- 
capes, the  rallies,  the  comradeships,  the  gallant 
undertakings;  or  he  searched  islands  for  treas- 

244 


WAYFARERS   ALL 

ure,  fished  in  still  lagoons  and  dozed  day-long 
on  warm  v/hite  sand.  Of  deep-sea  fishings  he 
heard  tell,  and  mighty  silver  gatherings  of  the 
mile-long  net;  of  sudden  perils,  noise  of  breakers 
on  a  moonless  night,  or  the  tall  bows  of  the 
great  liner  taking  shape  overhead  through  the 
fog;  of  the  merry  home-coming,  the  headland 
rounded,  the  harbour  lights  opened  out;  the 
groups  seen  dimly  on  the  quay,  the  cheery  hail, 
the  splash  of  the  hawser;  the  trudge  up  the 
steep  little  street  towards  the  comforting  glow 
of  red-curtained  windows. 

Lastly,  in  his  waking  dream  it  seemed  to  him 
that  the  Adventurer  had  risen  to  his  feet,  but 
was  still  speaking,  still  holding  him  fast  with 
his  sea-grey  eyes. 

"And  now,"  he  was  softly  saying,  "I  take  to 
the  road  again,  holding  on  southwestwards  for 
many  a  long  and  dusty  day;  till  at  last  I  reach 
the  little  grey  sea  town  I  know  so  well,  that 
clings  along  one  steep  side  of  the  harbour. 
There  through  dark  doorways  you  look  down 
flights  of  stone  steps,  overhung  by  great  pink 
tufts  of  valerian  and  ending  in  a  patch  of 

245 


THE   WIND   IN   THE   WILLOWS 

sparkling  blue  water.  The  little  boats  that  lie 
tethered  to  the  rings  and  stanchions  of  the  old 
sea-wall  are  gaily  painted  as  those  I  clambered 
in  and  out  of  in  my  own  childhood;  the  salmon 
leap  on  the  flood  tide,  schools  of  mackerel  flash 
and  play  past  quay-sides  and  foreshores,  and 
by  the  windows  the  great  vessels  glide,  night 
and  day,  up  to  their  moorings  or  forth  to  the 
open  sea.  There,  sooner  or  later,  the  ships  of 
all  seafaring  nations  arrive;  and  there,  at  its 
destined  hour,  the  ship  of  my  choice  will  let 
go  its  anchor.  I  shall  take  my  time,  I  shall 
tarry  and  bide,  till  at  last  the  right  one  lies 
waiting  for  me,  warped  out  into  midstream, 
loaded  low,  her  bowsprit  pointing  down  harbour. 
I  shall  slip  on  board,  by  boat  or  along  hawser; 
and  then  one  morning  I  shall  wake  to  the  song 
and  tramp  of  the  sailors,  the  clink  of  the  cap- 
stan, and  the  rattle  of  the  anchor-chain  coming 
merrily  in.  We  shall  break  out  the  jib  and  the 
foresail,  the  white  houses  on  the  harbour  side 
will  glide  slowly  past  us  as  she  gathers  steering- 
way,  and  the  voyage  will  have  begun!  As  she 
forges  towards  the  headland  she  will  clothe  her- 

246 


WAYFARERS   ALL 

self  with  canvas;  and  then,  once  outside,  the 
sounding  slap  of  great  green  seas  as  she  heels  to 
the  wind,  pointing  South! 

"And  you,  you  will  come  too,  young  brother; 
for  the  days  pass,  and  never  return,  and  the 
South  still  waits  for  you.  Take  the  adventure, 
heed  the  call,  now  ere  the  irrevocable  moment 
passes!  'Tis  but  a  banging  of  the  door  behind 
you,  a  blithesome  step  forward,  and  you  are 
out  of  the  old  life  and  into  the  new!  Then 
some  day,  some  day  long  hence,  jog  home  here 
if  you  will,  when  the  cup  has  been  drained  and 
the  play  has  been  played,  and  sit  down  by  your 
quiet  river  with  a  store  of  goodly  memories  for 
company.  You  can  easily  overtake  me  on  the 
road,  for  you  are  young,  and  I  am  ageing  and 
go  softly.  I  will  linger,  and  look  back;  and  at 
last  I  will  surely  see  you  coming,  eager  and 
light-hearted,  with  all  the  South  in  your  face!" 

The  voice  died  away  and  ceased  as  an  in- 
sect's tiny  trumpet  dwindles  swiftly  into  silence; 
and  the  Water  Rat,  paralysed  and  staring,  saw 
at  last  but  a  distant  speck  on  the  white  surface 
of  the  road. 

247 


THE    WIND    IN   THE    WILLOWS 

Mechanically  he  rose  and  proceeded  to  re- 
pack the  luncheon-basket,  carefully  and  without 
haste.  Mechanically  he  returned  home,  gath- 
ered together  a  few  small  necessaries  and  special 
treasures  he  was  fond  of,  and  put  them  in  a 
satchel;  acting  with  slow  deliberation,  moving 
about  the  room  like  a  sleep-walker;  listening 
ever  with  parted  lips.  He  swung  the  satchel 
over  his  shoulder,  carefully  selected  a  stout  stick 
for  his  wayfaring,  and  with  no  haste,  but  with 
no  hesitation  at  all,  he  stepped  across  the 
threshold  just  as  the  Mole  appeared  at  the  door. 

"Why,  where  are  you  off  to,  Ratty?"  asked 
the  Mole  in  great  surprise,  grasping  him  by 
the  arm. 

"  Going  South,  with  the  rest  of  them,"  mur- 
mured the  Rat  in  a  dreamy  monotone,  never 
looking  at  him.  "Seawards  first  and  then  on 
shipboard,  and  so  to  the  shores  that  are  calling 
me!" 

He  pressed  resolutely  forward,  still  without 
haste,  but  with  dogged  fixity  of  purpose;  but 
the  Mole,  now  thoroughly  alarmed,  placed  him- 
self in  front  of  him,  and  looking  into  his  eyes 

248 


WAYFARERS    ALL 

saw  that  they  were  glazed  and  set  and  turned  a 
streaked  and  shifting  grey  -  -  not  his  friend's 
eyes,  but  the  eyes  of  some  other  animal !  Grap- 
pling with  him  strongly  he  dragged  him  inside, 
threw  him  down,  and  held  him. 

The  Rat  struggled  desperately  for  a  few  mo- 
ments, and  then  his  strength  seemed  suddenly 
to  leave  him,  and  he  lay  still  and  exhausted, 
with  closed  eyes,  trembling.  Presently  the  Mole 
assisted  him  to  rise  and  placed  him  in  a  chair, 
where  he  sat  collapsed  and  shrunken  into  him- 
self, his  body  shaken  by  a  violent  shivering, 
passing  in  time  into  an  hysterical  fit  of  dry 
sobbing.  Mole  made  the  door  fast,  threw  the 
satchel  into  a  drawer  and  locked  it,  and  sat 
down  quietly  on  the  table  by  his  friend,  waiting 
for  the  strange  seizure  to  pass.  Gradually  the 
Rat  sank  into  a  troubled  doze,  broken  by  starts 
and  confused  murmurings  of  things  strange  and 
wild  and  foreign  to  the  unenlightened  Mole;  and 
from  that  he  passed  into  a  deep  slumber. 

Very  anxious  in  mind,  the  Mole  left  him  for 
a  time  and  busied  himself  with  household  mat- 
ters; and  it  was  getting  dark  when  he  returned 

249 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

to  the  parlour  and  found  the  Rat  where  he  had 
left  him,  wide  awake  indeed,  but  listless,  silent, 
and  dejected.  He  took  one  hasty  glance  at  his 
eyes;  found  them,  to  his  great  gratification, 
clear  and  dark  and  brown  again  as  before;  and 
then  sat  down  and  tried  to  cheer  him  up  and 
help  him  to  relate  what  had  happened  to  him. 

Poor  Ratty  did  his  best,  by  degrees,  to  explain 
things;  but  how  could  he  put  into  cold  words 
what  had  mostly  been  suggestion?  How  recall, 
for  another's  benefit,  the  haunting  sea  voices 
that  had  sung  to  him,  how  reproduce  at  second- 
hand the  magic  of  the  Seafarer's  hundred  rem- 
iniscences? Even  to  himself,  now  the  spell  was 
broken  and  the  glamour  gone,  he  found  it  diffi- 
cult to  account  for  what  had  seemed,  some  hours 
ago,  the  inevitable  and  only  thing.  It  is  not 
surprising,  then,  that  he  failed  to  convey  to  the 
Mole  any  clear  idea  of  what  he  had  been  through 
that  day. 

To  the  Mole  this  much  was  plain:  the  fit,  or 
attack,  had  passed  away,  and  had  left  him  sane 
again,  though  shaken  and  cast  down  by  the 
reaction.  But  he  seemed  to  have  lost  all  inter- 

250 


WAYFARERS    ALL 

est  for  the  time  in  the  things  that  went  to  make 
up  his  daily  life,  as  well  as  in  all  pleasant  fore- 
castings  of  the  altered  days  and  doings  that  the 
changing  season  was  surely  bringing. 

Casually,  then,  and  with  seeming  indifference, 
the  Mole  turned  his  talk  to  the  harvest  that 
was  being  gathered  in,  the  towering  wagons  and 
their  straining  teams,  the  growing  ricks,  and 
the  large  moon  rising  over  bare  acres  dotted 
with  sheaves.  He  talked  of  the  reddening  apples 
around,  of  the  browning  nuts,  of  jams  and  pre- 
serves and  the  distilling  of  cordials;  till  by  easy 
stages  such  as  these  he  reached  midwinter,  its 
hearty  joys  and  its  snug  home  life,  and  then 
he  became  simply  lyrical. 

By  degrees  the  Rat  began  to  sit  up  and  to 
join  in.  His  dull  eye  brightened,  and  he  lost 
some  of  his  listening  air. 

Presently  the  tactful  Mole  slipped  away  and 
returned  with  a  pencil  and  a  few  half-sheets  of 
paper,  which  he  placed  on  the  table  at  his 
friend's  elbow. 

"It's  quite  a  long  time  since  you  did  any 
poetry,"  he  remarked.  "You  might  have  a  try 

251 


THE   WIND    IN    THE    WILLOWS 

at  it  this  evening,  instead  of  -  -  well,  brooding 
over  things  so  much.  I  've  an  idea  that  you  '11 
feel  a  lot  better  when  you  've  got  something 
jotted  down  -  -  if  it 's  only  just  the  rhymes." 
The  Rat  pushed  the  paper  away  from  him 
wearily,  but  the  discreet  Mole  took  occasion  to 
leave  the  room,  and  when  he  peeped  in  again 
some  time  later,  the  Rat  was  absorbed  and  deaf 
to  the  world;  alternately  scribbling  and  sucking 
the  top  of  his  pencil.  It  is  true  that  he  sucked 
a  good  deal  more  than  he  scribbled;  but  it  was 
joy  to  the  Mole  to  know  that  the  cure  had  at 
least  begun. 


252 


X 

THE  FURTHER  ADVENTURES 
OF  TOAD 


X 

THE  FURTHER  ADVENTURES 
OF  TOAD 

THE  front  door  of  the  hollow  tree  faced 
eastwards,  so  Toad  was  called  at  an  early 
hour;  partly  by  the  bright  sunlight  streaming 
in  on  him,  partly  by  the  exceeding  coldness  of 
his  toes,  which  made  him  dream  that  he  was 
at  home  in  bed  in  his  own  handsome  room  with 
the  Tudor  window,  on  a  cold  winter's  night, 
and  his  bedclothes  had  got  up,  grumbling  and 
protesting  they  couldn't  stand  the  cold  any 
longer,  and  had  run  downstairs  to  the  kitchen 
fire  to  warm  themselves;  and  he  had  followed, 
on  bare  feet,  along  miles  and  miles  of  icy  stone- 
paved  passages,  arguing  and  beseeching  them 
to  be  reasonable.  He  would  probably  have 
been  aroused  much  earlier,  had  he  not  slept 
for  some  weeks  on  straw  over  stone  flags,  and 

255 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

almost  forgotten  the  friendly  feeling  of  thick 
blankets  pulled  well  up  round  the  chin. 

Sitting  up,  he  rubbed  his  eyes  first  and  his 
complaining  toes  next,  wondered  for  a  moment 
where  he  was,  looking  round  for  familiar  stone 
wall  and  little  barred  window;  then,  with  a 
leap  of  the  heart,  remembered  everything  - 
his  escape,  his  flight,  his  pursuit;  remembered, 
first  and  best  thing  of  all,  that  he  was  free! 

Free !  The  word  and  the  thought  alone  were 
worth  fifty  blankets.  He  was  warm  from  end 
to  end  as  he  thought  of  the  jolly  world  outside, 
waiting  eagerly  for  him  to  make  his  triumphal 
entrance,  ready  to  serve  him  and  play  up  to 
him,  anxious  to  help  him  and  to  keep  him  com- 
pany, as  it  always  had  been  in  days  of  old  be- 
fore misfortune  fell  upon  him.  He  shook  him- 
self and  combed  the  dry  leaves  out  of  his  hair 
with  his  fingers;  and,  his  toilet  complete, 
marched  forth  into  the  comfortable  morning  sun, 
cold  but  confident,  hungry  but  hopeful,  all  ner- 
vous terrors  of  yesterday  dispelled  by  rest  and 
sleep  and  frank  and  heartening  sunshine. 

He  had  the  world  all  to  himself,  that  early 

256 


FURTHER   ADVENTURES 

summer  morning.  The  dewy  woodland,  as  he 
threaded  it,  was  solitary  and  still:  the  green 
fields  that  succeeded  the  trees  were  his  own  to 
do  as  he  liked  with;  the  road  itself,  when  he 
reached  it,  in  that  loneliness  that  was  every- 
where, seemed,  like  a  stray  dog,  to  be  looking 
anxiously  for  company.  Toad,  however,  was 
looking  for  something  that  could  talk,  and  tell 
him  clearly  which  way  he  ought  to  go.  It  is  all 
very  well,  when  you  have  a  light  heart,  and  a 
clear  conscience,  and  money  in  your  pocket,  and 
nobody  scouring  the  country  for  you  to  drag 
you  off  to  prison  again,  to  follow  where  the  road 
beckons  and  points,  not  caring  whither.  The 
practical  Toad  cared  very  much  indeed,  and  he 
could  have  kicked  the  road  for  its  helpless 
silence  when  every  minute  was  of  importance 
to  him. 

The  reserved  rustic  road  was  presently  joined 
by  a  shy  little  brother  in  the  shape  of  a  canal, 
which  took  its  hand  and  ambled  along  by  its 
side  in  perfect  confidence,  but  with  the  same 
tongue-tied,  uncommunicative  attitude  towards 
strangers.  "Bother  them!"  said  Toad  to  him- 

257 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

self.  "But,  anyhow,  one  thing's  clear.  They 
must  both  be  coming  from  somewhere,  and 
going  to  somewhere.  You  can't  get  over  that, 
Toad,  my  boy!"  So  he  marched  on  patiently  by 
the  water's  edge. 

Round  a  bend  in  the  canal  came  plodding  a 
solitary  horse,  stooping  forward  as  if  in  anxious 
thought.  From  rope  traces  attached  to  his 
collar  stretched  a  long  line,  taut,  but  dipping 
with  his  stride,  the  further  part  of  it  dripping 
pearly  drops.  Toad  let  the  horse  pass,  and  stood 
waiting  for  what  the  fates  were  sending  him. 

With  a  pleasant  swirl  of  quiet  water  at  its 
blunt  bow  the  barge  slid  up  alongside  of  him, 
its  gaily  painted  gunwale  level  with  the  towing- 
path,  its  sole  occupant  a  big  stout  woman 
wearing  a  linen  sun-bonnet,  one  brawny  arm 
laid  along  the  tiller. 

"A  nice  morning,  ma'am!"  she  remarked  to 
Toad,  as  she  drew  up  level  with  him. 

'I  dare  say  it  is,  ma'am!"  responded  Toad 
politely,  as  he  walked  along  the  tow-path 
abreast  of  her.  "I  dare  say  it  is  a  nice  morning 
to  them  that  's  not  in  sore  trouble,  like  what  I 

258 


FURTHER   ADVENTURES 

am.  Here  's  my  married  daughter,  she  sends  off 
to  me  post-haste  to  come  to  her  at  once;  so  off 
I  comes,  not  knowing  what  may  be  happening  or 
going  to  happen,  but  fearing  the  worst,  as  you 
will  understand,  ma'am,  if  you  're  a  mother, 
too.  And  I  Ve  left  my  business  to  look  after 
itself  —  I  'm  in  the  washing  and  laundering  line, 
you  must  know,  ma'am  —  and  I  've  left  my 
young  children  to  look  after  themselves,  and  a 
more  mischievous  and  troublesome  set  of  young 
imps  doesn't  exist,  ma'am;  and  I  've  lost  all 
my  money,  and  lost  my  way,  and  as  for  what 
may  be  happening  to  my  married  daughter, 
why,  I  don't  like  to  think  of  it,  ma'am!" 

'Where  might  your  married  daughter  be  liv- 
ing, ma'am?"  asked  the  barge-woman. 

"She  lives  near  to  the  river,  ma'am,"  replied 
Toad.  ''Close  to  a  fine  house  called  Toad  Hall, 
that 's  somewheres  hereabouts  in  these  parts. 
Perhaps  you  may  have  heard  of  it." 

'Toad  Hall?  Why,  I  'm  going  that  way  my- 
self," replied  the  barge-woman.  'This  canal 
joins  the  river  some  miles  further  on,  a  little 
above  Toad  Hall;  and  then  it 's  an  easy  walk. 

259 


THE   WIND   IN   THE   WILLOWS 

You  come  along  in  the  barge  with  me,  and  I  '11 
give  you  a  lift." 

She  steered  the  barge  close  to  the  bank,  and 
Toad,  with  many  humble  and  grateful  acknowl- 
edgments, stepped  lightly  on  board  and  sat 
down  with  great  satisfaction.  'Toad's  luck 
again!"  thought  he.  "I  always  come  out  on 
top!" 

"So  you  're  in  the  washing  business,  ma'am?" 
said  the  barge-woman  politely,  as  they  glided 
along.  "And  a  very  good  business  you  've  got 
too,  I  dare  say,  if  I  'm  not  making  too  free  in 
saying  so." 

"Finest  business  in  the  whole  country,"  said 
Toad  airily.  "All  the  gentry  come  to  me  — 
wouldn't  go  to  any  one  else  if  they  were  paid, 
they  know  me  so  well.  You  see,  I  understand 
my  work  thoroughly,  and  attend  to  it  all  myself. 
Washing,  ironing,  clear-starching,  making  up 
gents'  fine  shirts  for  evening  wear  —  everything 's 
done  under  my  own  eye ! " 

''But  surely  you  don't  do  all  that  work  your- 
self, ma'am?"  asked  the  barge-woman  respect- 
fully. 

260 


FURTHER  ADVENTURES 


"O,  I  have  girls,"  said  Toad  lightly:  'twenty 
girls  or  thereabouts,  always  at  work.  But  you 
know  what  girls  are,  ma'am!  Nasty  little 
hussies,  that's  what  I  call  'em!" 

"So  do  I,  too,"  said  the  barge-woman  with 
great  heartiness.  "But  I  dare  say  you  set  yours 
to  rights,  the  idle  trollops!  And  are  you  very 
fond  of  washing?" 

"I  love  it,"  said  Toad.  :'I  simply  dote  on  it. 
Never  so  happy  as  when  I  Ve  got  both  arms  in 
the  wash-tub.  But,  then,  it  comes  so  easy  to 
me!  No  trouble  at  all!  A  real  pleasure,  I 
assure  you,  ma'am!" 

'What  a  bit  of  luck,  meeting  you!"  observed 
the  barge-woman,  thoughtfully.  "A  regular 
piece  of  good  fortune  for  both  of  us!" 

'Why,  what  do  you  mean?"  asked  Toad, 
nervously. 

"Well,  look  at  me,  now,"  replied  the  barge- 
woman.  "7  like  washing,  too,  just  the  same  as 
you  do;  and  for  that  matter,  whether  I  like  it 
or  not  I  have  got  to  do  all  my  own,  naturally, 
moving  about  as  I  do.  Now  my  husband,  he  's 
such  a  fellow  for  shirking  his  work  and  leaving 

261 


THE   WIND    IN    THE   WILLOWS 

the  barge  to  me,  that  never  a  moment  do  I  get 
for  seeing  to  my  own  affairs.  By  rights  he 
ought  to  be  here  now,  either  steering  or  attend- 
ing to  the  horse,  though  luckily  the  horse  has 
sense  enough  to  attend  to  himself.  Instead  of 
which,  he  's  gone  off  with  the  dog,  to  see  if  they 
can't  pick  up  a  rabbit  for  dinner  somewhere. 
Says  he  '11  catch  me  up  at  the  next  lock.  Well, 
that 's  as  may  be  —  I  don't  trust  him,  once  he 
gets  off  with  that  dog,  who  's  worse  than  he  is. 
But  meantime,  how  am  I  to  get  on  with  my 
washing? ': 

"O,  never  mind  about  the  washing,"  said 
Toad,  not  liking  the  subject.  'Try  and  fix  your 
mind  on  that  rabbit.  A  nice  fat  young  rabbit, 
I  '11  be  bound.  Got  any  onions?'1 

:'I  can't  fix  my  mind  on  anything  but  my 
washing,"  said  the  barge-woman,  "and  I  wonder 
you  can  be  talking  of  rabbits,  with  such  a  joyful 
prospect  before  you.  There  's  a  heap  of  things 
of  mine  that  you  '11  find  in  a  corner  of  the  cabin. 
If  you  '11  just  take  one  or  two  of  the  most 
necessary  sort  —  I  won't  venture  to  describe 
them  to  a  lady  like  you,  but  you  '11  recognise 

262 


FURTHER  ADVENTURES 

them  at  a  glance  -  -  and  put  them  through  the 
wash-tub  as  we  go  along,  why,  it  '11  be  a  pleas- 
ure to  you,  as  you  rightly  say,  and  a  real  help 
to  me.  You  '11  find  a  tub  handy,  and  soap,  and 
a  kettle  on  the  stove,  and  a  bucket  to  haul  up 
water  from  the  canal  with.  Then  I  shall  know 
you  're  enjoying  yourself,  instead  of  sitting  here 
idle,  looking  at  the  scenery  and  yawning  your 
head  off." 

"Here,  you  let  me  steer!"  said  Toad,  now 
thoroughly  frightened,  "and  then  you  can  get 
on  with  your  washing  your  own  way.  I  might 
spoil  your  things,  or  not  do  'em  as  you  like. 
I  'm  more  used  to  gentleman's  things  myself. 
It 's  my  special  line." 

"Let  you  steer? '"  replied  the  barge-woman, 
laughing.  "It  takes  some  practice  to  steer  a 
barge  properly.  Besides,  it 's  dull  work,  and  I 
want  you  to  be  happy.  No,  you  shall  do  the 
washing  you  are  so  fond  of,  and  I  '11  stick  to 
the  steering  that  I  understand.  Don't  try  and 
deprive  me  of  the  pleasure  of  giving  you  a 
treat!" 

Toad  was  fairly  cornered.  He  looked  for 

263 


THE    WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

escape  this  way  and  that,  saw  that  he  was  too 
far  from  the  bank  for  a  flying  leap,  and  sullenly 
resigned  himself  to  his  fate.  'If  it  comes  to 
that,"  he  thought  in  desperation,  'I  suppose 
any  fool  can  wash!' 

He  fetched  tub,  soap,  and  other  necessaries 
from  the  cabin,  selected  a  few  garments  at  ran- 
dom, tried  to  recollect  what  he  had  seen  in 
casual  glances  through  laundry  windows,  and 
set  to. 

A  long  half-hour  passed,  and  every  minute  of 
it  saw  Toad  getting  crosser  and  crosser.  Noth- 
ing that  he  could  do  to  the  things  seemed  to 
please  them  or  do  them  good.  He  tried  coax- 
ing, he  tried  slapping,  he  tried  punching;  they 
smiled  back  at  him  out  of  the  tub  unconverted, 
happy  in  their  original  sin.  Once  or  twice  he 
looked  nervously  over  his  shoulder  at  the  barge- 
woman,  but  she  appeared  to  be  gazing  out  in 
front  of  her,  absorbed  in  her  steering.  His  back 
ached  badly,  and  he  noticed  with  dismay  that 
his  paws  were  beginning  to  get  all  crinkly.  Now 
Toad  was  very  proud  of  his  paws.  He  muttered 
under  his  breath  words  that  should  never  pass 

264 


FURTHER   ADVENTURES 

the  lips  of  either  washerwomen  or  Toads;  and 
lost  the  soap,  for  the  fiftieth  time. 

A  burst  of  laughter  made  him  straighten  him- 
self and  look  round.  The  barge-woman  was 
leaning  back  and  laughing  unrestrainedly,  till 
the  tears  ran  down  her  cheeks. 

"I  've  been  watching  you  all  the  time,"  she 
gasped.  "I  thought  you  must  be  a  humbug 
all  along,  from  the  conceited  way  you  talked. 
Pretty  washerwoman  you  are!  Never  washed 
so  much  as  a  dish-clout  in  your  life,  I  '11  lay!" 

Toad's  temper,  which  had  been  simmering 
viciously  for  some  time,  now  fairly  boiled  over, 
and  he  lost  all  control  of  himself. 

"You  common,  low,  fat  barge-woman!"  he 
shouted;  " don't  you  dare  to  talk  to  your  betters 
like  that!  Washerwoman  indeed!  I  would 
have  you  to  know  that  I  am  a  Toad,  a  very 
well-known,  respected,  distinguished  Toad!  I 
may  be  under  a  bit  of  a  cloud  at  present,  but 
I  will  not  be  laughed  at  by  a  barge-woman!" 

The  woman  moved  nearer  to  him  and  peered 
under  his  bonnet  keenly  and  closely.  'Why, 
so  you  are!"  she  cried.  'Well,  I  never!  A 

265 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

horrid,  nasty,  crawly  Toad!  And  in  my  nice 
clean  barge,  too!  Now  that  is  a  thing  that  I 
will  not  have." 

She  relinquished  the  tiller  for  a  moment.  One 
big,  mottled  arm  shot  out  and  caught  Toad  by 
a  fore-leg,  while  the  other  gripped  him  fast  by 
a  hind-leg.  Then  the  world  turned  suddenly 
upside  down,  the  barge  seemed  to  flit  lightly 
across  the  sky,  the  wind  \vhistled  in  his  ears, 
and  Toad  found  himself  flying  through  the  air, 
revolving  rapidly  as  he  went. 

The  water,  when  he  eventually  reached  it 
with  a  loud  splash,  proved  quite  cold  enough 
for  his  taste,  though  its  chill  was  not  sufficient 
to  quell  his  proud  spirit,  or  slake  the  heat  of 
his  furious  temper.  He  rose  to  the  surface 
spluttering,  and  when  he  had  wiped  the  duck- 
weed out  of  his  eyes  the  first  thing  he  saw  was 
the  fat  barge-woman  looking  back  at  him  over 
the  stern  of  the  retreating  barge  and  laughing; 
and  he  vowed,  as  he  coughed  and  choked,  to  be 
even  with  her. 

He  struck  out  for  the  shore,  but  the  cotton 
gown  greatly  impeded  his  efforts,  and  when  at 

266 


FURTHER   ADVENTURES 

length  he  touched  land  he  found  it  hard  to  climb 
up  the  steep  bank  unassisted.  He  had  to  take 
a  minute  or  two's  rest  to  recover  his  breath; 
then,  gathering  his  wet  skirts  well  over  his 
arms,  he  started  to  run  after  the  barge  as  fast  as 
his  legs  would  carry  him,  wild  with  indignation, 
thirsting  for  revenge. 

The  barge-woman  was  still  laughing  when  he 
drew  up  level  with  her.  "  Put  yourself  through 
your  mangle,  washerwoman,"  she  called  out, 
"and  iron  your  face  and  crimp  it,  and  you'll 
pass  for  quite  a  decent-looking  Toad!" 

Toad  never  paused  to  reply.  Solid  revenge 
was  what  he  wanted,  not  cheap,  windy,  verbal 
triumphs,  though  he  had  a  thing  or  two  in  his 
mind  that  he  would  have  liked  to  say.  He  saw 
what  he  wanted  ahead  of  him.  Running  swiftly 
on  he  overtook  the  horse,  unfastened  the  tow- 
rope  and  cast  off,  jumped  lightly  on  the  horse's 
back,  and  urged  it  to  a  gallop  by  kicking  it 
vigorously  in  the  sides.  He  steered  for  the 
open  country,  abandoning  the  tow-path,  and 
swinging  his  steed  down  a  rutty  lane.  Once  he 
looked  back,  and  saw  that  the  barge  had  run 

267 


THE    WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

aground  on  the  other  side  of  the  canal,  and 
the  barge-woman  was  gesticulating  wildly  and 
shouting,  "Stop,  stop,  stop!"  'I  've  heard  that 
song  before,"  said  Toad,  laughing,  as  he  contin- 
ued to  spur  his  steed  onward  in  its  wild  career. 

The  barge-horse  was  not  capable  of  any  very 
sustained  effort,  and  its  gallop  soon  subsided 
into  a  trot,  and  its  trot  into  an  easy  walk;  but 
Toad  was  quite  contented  with  this,  knowing 
that  he,  at  any  rate,  was  moving,  and  the  barge 
was  not.  He  had  quite  recovered  his  temper, 
now  that  he  had  done  something  he  thought 
really  clever;  and  he  was  satisfied  to  jog  along 
quietly  in  the  sun,  steering  his  horse  along 
by-ways  and  bridle-paths,  and  trying  to  forget 
how  very  long  it  was  since  he  had  had  a  square 
meal,  till  the  canal  had  been  left  very  far  behind 
him. 

He  had  travelled  some  miles,  his  horse  and 
he,  and  he  was  feeling  drowsy  in  the  hot  sun- 
shine, when  the  horse  stopped,  lowered  his  head, 
and  began  to  nibble  the  grass;  and  Toad,  waking 
up,  just  saved  himself  from  falling  off  by  an 
effort.  He  looked  about  him  and  found  he  was 

268 


FURTHER   ADVENTURES 

on  a  wide  common,  dotted  with  patches  of 
gorse  and  bramble  as  far  as  he  could  see.  Near 
him  stood  a  dingy  gipsy  caravan,  and  beside  it 
a  man  was  sitting  on  a  bucket  turned  upside 
down,  very  busy  smoking  and  staring  into  the 
wide  world.  A  fire  of  sticks  was  burning  near 
by,  and  over  the  fire  hung  an  iron  pot,  and  out 
of  that  pot  came  forth  bubblings  and  gurglings, 
and  a  vague  suggestive  steaminess.  Also  smells 
—  warm,  rich,  and  varied  smells  —  that  twined 
and  twisted  and  wreathed  themselves  at  last 
into  one  complete,  voluptuous,  perfect  smell 
that  seemed  like  the  very  soul  of  Nature  taking 
form  and  appearing  to  her  children,  a  true  God- 
dess, a  mother  of  solace  and  comfort.  Toad 
now  knew  well  that  he  had  not  been  really 
hungry  before.  What  he  had  felt  earlier  in  the 
day  had  been  a  mere  trifling  qualm.  This  was 
the  real  thing  at  last,  and  no  mistake;  and  it 
would  have  to  be  dealt  with  speedily,  too,  or 
there  would  be  trouble  for  somebody  or  some- 
thing. He  looked  the  gipsy  over  carefully,  won- 
dering vaguely  whether  it  would  be  easier  to 
fight  him  or  cajole  him.  So  there  he  sat,  and 

269 


THE    WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

sniffed  and  sniffed,  and  looked  at  the  gipsy; 
and  the  gipsy  sat  and  smoked,  and  looked  at 
him. 

Presently  the  gipsy  took  his  pipe  out  of  his 
mouth  and  remarked  in  a  careless  way,  "Want 
to  sell  that  there  horse  of  yours  ?" 

Toad  was  completely  taken  aback.  He  did 
not  know  that  gipsies  were  very  fond  of  horse- 
dealing,  and  never  missed  an  opportunity,  and 
he  had  not  reflected  that  caravans  were  always 
on  the  move  and  took  a  deal  of  drawing.  It 
had  not  occurred  to  him  to  turn  the  horse  into 
cash,  but  the  gipsy's  suggestion  seemed  to 
smooth  the  way  towards  the  two  things  he 
wanted  so  badly  -  -  ready  money,  and  a  solid 
breakfast. 

"What?"  he  said,  "me  sell  this  beautiful 
young  horse  of  mine?  O,  no;  it 's  out  of  the 
question.  Who  's  going  to  take  the  washing 
home  to  my  customers  every  week?  Besides, 
I  'm  too  fond  of  him,  and  he  simply  dotes  on 


me.' 


. .  i 


;Try    and    love    a    donkey,"    suggested    the 
gipsy.     "Some  people  do." 

270 


FURTHER   ADVENTURES 

"You  don't  seem  to  see,"  continued  Toad, 
"that  this  fine  horse  of  mine  is  a  cut  above  you 
altogether.  He  's  a  blood  horse,  he  is,  partly; 
not  the  part  you  see,  of  course  —  another  part. 
And  he  's  been  a  Prize  Hackney,  too,  in  his  time 
-  that  was  the  time  before  you  knew  him,  but 
you  can  still  tell  it  on  him  at  a  glance,  if  you 
understand  anything  about  horses.  No,  it 's 
not  to  be  thought  of  for  a  moment.  All  the 
same,  how  much  might  you  be  disposed  to  offer 
me  for  this  beautiful  young  horse  of  mine?" 

The  gipsy  looked  the  horse  over,  and  then  he 
looked  Toad  over  with  equal  care,  and  looked 
at  the  horse  again.  "Shillin'  a  leg,"  he  said 
briefly,  and  turned  away,  continuing  to  smoke 
and  try  to  stare  the  wide  world  out  of  coun- 
tenance. 

"A  shilling  a  leg?"  cried  Toad.  "If  you 
please,  I  must  take  a  little  time  to  work  that 
out,  and  see  just  what  it  comes  to." 

He  climbed  down  off  his  horse,  and  left  it  to 
graze,  and  sat  down  by  the  gipsy,  and  did  sums 
on  his  fingers,  and  at  last  he  said,  "A  shilling  a 
leg?  Why,  that  comes  to  exactly  four  shillings, 

271 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

and  no  more.  O,  no;  I  could  not  think  of 
accepting  four  shillings  for  this  beautiful  young 
horse  of  mine." 

"Well,"  said  the  gipsy,  "I'll  tell  you  what 
I  will  do.  I  '11  make  it  five  shillings,  and 
that 's  three-and-sixpence  more  than  the  ani- 
mal 's  worth.  And  that 's  my  last  word." 

Then  Toad  sat  and  pondered  long  and 
deeply.  For  he  was  hungry  and  quite  penni- 
less, and  still  some  way  —  he  knew  not  how  far 
—  from  home,  and  enemies  might  still  be  looking 
for  him.  To  one  in  such  a  situation,  five  shil- 
lings may  very  well  appear  a  large  sum  of 
money.  On  the  other  hand,  it  did  not  seem 
very  much  to  get  for  a  horse.  But  then,  again, 
the  horse  hadn't  cost  him  anything;  so  what- 
ever he  got  was  all  clear  profit.  At  last  he  said 
firmly,  "Look  here,  gipsy!  I  tell  you  what  we 
will  do;  and  this  is  my  last  word.  You  shall 
hand  me  over  six  shillings  and  sixpence,  cash 
down;  and  further,  in  addition  thereto,  you 
shall  give  me  as  much  breakfast  as  I  can  pos- 
sibly eat,  at  one  sitting  of  course,  out  of  that 
iron  pot  of  yours  that  keeps  sending  forth  such 

272 


FURTHER   ADVENTURES 

delicious  and  exciting  smells.  In  return,  I  will 
make  over  to  you  my  spirited  young  horse,  with 
all  the  beautiful  harness  and  trappings  that  are 
on  him,  freely  thrown  in.  If  that 's  not  good 
enough  for  you,  say  so,  and  I  '11  be  getting  on. 
I  know  a  man  near  here  who  's  wanted  this 
horse  of  mine  for  years." 

The  gipsy  grumbled  frightfully,  and  declared 
if  he  did  a  few  more  deals  of  that  sort  he  'd  be 
ruined.  But  in  the  end  he  lugged  a  dirty  can- 
vas bag  out  of  the  depths  of  his  trouser  pocket, 
and  counted  out  six  shillings  and  sixpence  into 
Toad's  paw.  Then  he  disappeared  into  the 
caravan  for  an  instant,  and  returned  with  a 
large  iron  plate  and  a  knife,  fork,  and  spoon. 
He  tilted  up  the  pot,  and  a  glorious  stream  of 
hot,  rich  stew  gurgled  into  the  plate.  It  was, 
indeed,  the  most  beautiful  stew  in  the  world, 
being  made  of  partridges,  and  pheasants,  and 
chickens,  and  hares,  and  rabbits,  and  peahens, 
and  guinea-fowls,  and  one  or  two  other  things. 
Toad  took  the  plate  on  his  lap,  almost  crying, 
and  stuffed,  and  stuffed,  and  stuffed,  and  kept 
asking  for  more,  and  the  gipsy  never  grudged 

273 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

it  him.  He  thought  that  he  had  never  eaten 
so  good  a  breakfast  in  all  his  life. 

When  Toad  had  taken  as  much  stew  on  board 
as  he  thought  he  could  possibly  hold,  he  got  up 
and  said  good-bye  to  the  gipsy,  and  took  an 
affectionate  farewell  of  the  horse;  and  the  gipsy, 
who  knew  the  riverside  well,  gave  him  direc- 
tions which  way  to  go,  and  he  set  forth  on  his 
travels  again  in  the  best  possible  spirits.  He 
was,  indeed,  a  very  different  Toad  from  the 
animal  of  an  hour  ago.  The  sun  was  shining 
brightly,  his  wet  clothes  were  quite  dry  again, 
he  had  money  in  his  pocket  once  more,  he  was 
nearing  home  and  friends  and  safety,  and,  most 
and  best  of  all,  he  had  had  a  substantial  meal, 
hot  and  nourishing,  and  felt  big,  and  strong,  and 
careless,  and  self-confident. 

As  he  tramped  along  gaily,  he  thought  of  his 
adventures  and  escapes,  and  how  when  things 
seemed  at  their  worst  he  had  always  managed 
to  find  a  wray  out;  and  his  pride  and  conceit 
began  to  swell  within  him.  'Ho,  ho!"  he  said 
to  himself,  as  he  marched  along  with  his  chin 
in  the  air,  "what  a  clever  Toad  I  am!  There 

£74 


FURTHER   ADVENTURES 

is  surely  no  animal  equal  to  me  for  cleverness 
in  the  whole  world!  My  enemies  shut  me  up 
in  prison,  encircled  by  sentries,  watched  night 
and  day  by  warders;  I  walk  out  through  them 
all,  by  sheer  ability  coupled  with  courage. 
They  pursue  me  with  engines,  and  policemen, 
and  revolvers;  I  snap  my  fingers  at  them,  and 
vanish,  laughing,  into  space.  I  am,  unfortu- 
nately, thrown  into  a  canal  by  a  woman  fat  of 
body  and  very  evil-minded.  What  of  it?  I 
swim  ashore,  I  seize  her  horse,  I  ride  off  in 
triumph,  and  I  sell  the  horse  for  a  whole  pocket- 
ful of  money  and  an  excellent  breakfast!  Ho, 
ho!  I  am  The  Toad,  the  handsome,  the  popu- 
lar, the  successful  Toad!"  He  got  so  puffed  up 
with  conceit  that  he  made  up  a  song  as  he 
walked  in  praise  of  himself,  and  sang  it  at  the 
top  of  his  voice,  though  there  was  no  one  to 
hear  it  but  him.  It  was,  perhaps,  the  most 
conceited  song  that  any  animal  ever  composed. 

"The  world  has  held  great  Heroes, 
As  history-books  have  showed; 
But  never  a  name  to  go  down  to  fame 
Compared  with  that  of  Toad ! 

275 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

"The  clever  men  at  Oxford 

Know  all  that  there  is  to  be  knowed. 
But  they  none  of  them  know  one  half  as  much 
As  intelligent  Mr.  Toad! 

"The  animals  sat  in  the  Ark  and  cried, 

Their  tears  in  torrents  flowed. 
Who  was  it  said,  'There  's  land  ahead?' 
Encouraging  Mr.  Toad! 

"The  army  all  saluted 

As  they  marched  along  the  road. 
Was  it  the  King?    Or  Kitchener? 
No.     It  was  Mr.  'toad. 

"The  Queen  and  her  Ladies-in-waiting 

Sat  at  the  window  and  sewed. 
She  cried,  'Look!  who  's  that  handsome  man?' 
They  answered,  'Mr.  Toad.'" 

There  was  a  great  deal  more  of  the  same 
sort,  but  too  dreadfully  conceited  to  be  written 
down.  These  are  some  of  the  milder  verses. 

He  sang  as  he  walked,  and  he  walked  as  he 
sang,  and  got  more  inflated  every  minute.  But 
his  pride  was  shortly  to  have  a  severe  fall. 

After  some  miles  of  country  lanes  he  reached 
the  high  road,  and  as  he  turned  into  it  and 
glanced  along  its  white  length,  he  saw  approach- 

276 


FURTHER   ADVENTURES 

ing  him  a  speck  that  turned  into  a  dot  and  then 
into  a  blob,  and  then  into  something  very 
familiar;  and  a  double  note  of  warning,  only 
too  well  known,  fell  on  his  delighted  ear. 

'This  is  something  like!"  said  the  excited 
Toad.  'This  is  real  life  again,  this  is  once 
more  the  great  world  from  which  I  have  been 
missed  so  long!  I  will  hail  them,  my  brothers 
of  the  wheel,  and  pitch  them  a  yarn,  of  the 
sort  that  has  been  so  successful  hitherto;  and 
they  will  give  me  a  lift,  of  course,  and  then  I 
will  talk  to  them  some  more;  and,  perhaps, 
with  luck,  it  may  even  end  in  my  driving  up 
to  Toad  Hall  in  a  motor-car!  That  will  be 
one  in  the  eye  for  Badger!" 

He  stepped  confidently  out  into  the  road  to 
hail  the  motor-car,  which  came  along  at  an  easy 
pace,  slowing  down  as  it  neared  the  lane;  when 
suddenly  he  became  very  pale,  his  heart  turned 
to  water,  his  knees  shook  and  yielded  under  him, 
and  he  doubled  up  and  collapsed  with  a  sicken- 
ing pain  in  his  interior.  And  well  he  might,  the 
unhappy  animal;  for  the  approaching  car  was 
the  very  one  he  had  stolen  out  of  the  yard  of 

277 


THE   WIND    IN   THE    WILLOWS 

the  Red  Lion  Hotel  on  that  fatal  day  when  all 
his  troubles  began!  And  the  people  in  it  were 
the  very  same  people  he  had  sat  and  watched 
at  luncheon  in  the  coffee-room! 

He  sank  down  in  a  shabby,  miserable  heap 
in  the  road,  murmuring  to  himself  in  his  despair, 
;'It's  all  up!  It's  all  over  now!  Chains  and 
policemen  again !  Prison  again !  Dry  bread  and 
water  again!  O,  what  a  fool  I  have  been! 
What  did  I  want  to  go  strutting  about  the 
country  for,  singing  conceited  songs,  and  hail- 
ing people  in  broad  day  on  the  high  road,  in- 
stead of  hiding  till  nightfall  and  slipping  home 
quietly  by  back  ways!  O  hapless  Toad!  O 
ill-fated  animal!" 

The  terrible  motor-car  drew  slowly  nearer  and 
nearer,  till  at  last  he  heard  it  stop  just  short  of 
him.  Two  gentlemen  got  out  and  walked  round 
the  trembling  heap  of  crumpled  misery  lying  in 
the  road,  and  one  of  them  said,  "O  dear!  this 
is  very  sad !  Here  is  a  poor  old  thing  —  a  wash- 
erwoman apparently  —  who  has  fainted  in  the 
road!  Perhaps  she  is  overcome  by  the  heat, 
poor  creature;  or  possibly  she  has  not  had  any 

278 


FURTHER   ADVENTURES 

food  to-day.  Let  us  lift  her  into  the  car  and 
take  her  to  the  nearest  village,  where  doubtless 
she  has  friends." 

They  tenderly  lifted  Toad  into  the  motor-car 
and  propped  him  up  with  soft  cushions,  and 
proceeded  on  their  way. 

When  Toad  heard  them  talk  in  so  kind  and 
sympathetic  a  way,  and  knew  that  he  was  not 
recognised,  his  courage  began  to  revive,  and  he 
cautiously  opened  first  one  eye  and  then  the 
other. 

"Look!"  said  one  of  the  gentlemen,  "she  is 
better  already.  The  fresh  air  is  doing  her  good. 
How  do  you  feel  now,  ma'am?" 

'Thank  you  kindly,  sir,"  said  Toad  in  a 
feeble  voice,  "I  'm  feeling  a  great  deal  better!" 
"That's  right,"  said  the  gentleman.  "Now 
keep  quite  still,  and,  above  all,  don't  try  to 
talk." 

"I  won't,"  said  Toad.     "I  was  only  thinking, 

if  I  might  sit  on  the  front  seat  there,  beside 

the  driver,  where  I  could  get  the  fresh  air  full 

in  my  face,  I  should  soon  be  all  right  again." 

'What   a   very   sensible   woman!"    said   the 

279 


THE    WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

gentleman.  "Of  course  you  shall."  So  they 
carefully  helped  Toad  into  the  front  seat  beside 
the  driver,  and  on  they  went  again. 

Toad  was  almost  himself  again  by  now.  He 
sat  up,  looked  about  him,  and  tried  to  beat 
down  the  tremors,  the  yearnings,  the  old  cra- 
vings that  rose  up  and  beset  him  and  took  pos- 
session of  him  entirely. 

" It  is  fate ! "  he  said  to  himself.  "Why  strive? 
why  struggle?"  and  he  turned  to  the  driver  at 
his  side. 

"Please,  Sir,"  he  said,  i(I  wish  you  would 
kindly  let  me  try  and  drive  the  car  for  a  little. 
I  've  been  watching  you  carefully,  and  it  looks 
so  easy  and  so  interesting,  and  I  should  like 
to  be  able  to  tell  my  friends  that  once  I  had 
driven  a  motor-car!" 

The  driver  laughed  at  the  proposal,  so  heartily 
that  the  gentleman  inquired  what  the  matter 
was.  When  he  heard,  he  said,  to  Toad's  delight, 
"Bravo,  ma'am!  I  like  your  spirit.  Let  her 
have  a  try,  and  look  after  her.  She  won't  do 
any  harm." 

Toad  eagerly  scrambled  into  the  seat  vacated 

280 


FURTHER   ADVENTURES 

by  the  driver,  took  the  steering-wheel  in  his 
hands,  listened  with  affected  humility  to  the 
instructions  given  him,  and  set  the  car  in  mo- 
tion, but  very  slowly  and  carefully  at  first,  for 
he  was  determined  to  be  prudent. 

The  gentlemen  behind  clapped  their  hands 
and  applauded,  and  Toad  heard  them  saying, 
"How  well  she  does  it!  Fancy  a  washerwoman 
driving  a  car  as  well  as  that,  the  first  time!" 

Toad  went  a  little  faster;  then  faster  still, 
and  faster. 

He  heard  the  gentlemen  call  out  warningly, 
"Be  careful,  washerwoman!"  And  this  an- 
noyed him,  and  he  began  to  lose  his  head. 

The  driver  tried  to  interfere,  but  he  pinned 
him  down  in  his  seat  with  one  elbow,  and  put 
on  full  speed.  The  rush  of  air  in  his  face, 
the  hum  of  the  engines,  and  the  light  jump  of 
the  car  beneath  him  intoxicated  his  weak  brain. 
"Washerwoman,  indeed!"  he  shouted  recklessly. 
"Ho!  ho!  I  am  the  Toad,  the  motor-car 
snatcher,  the  prison-breaker,  the  Toad  who 
always  escapes!  Sit  still,  and  you  shall  know 
what  driving  really  is,  for  you  are  in  the  hands 

281 


THE    WIND    IN    THE   WILLOWS 

of  the  famous,  the  skilful,  the  entirely  fearless 
Toad!" 

With  a  cry  of  horror  the  whole  party  rose 
and  flung  themselves  on  him.  "Seize  him!" 
they  cried,  "seize  the  Toad,  the  wicked  ani- 
mal who  stole  our  motor-car!  Bind  him,  chain 
him,  drag  him  to  the  nearest  police  station! 
Down  with  the  desperate  and  dangerous 
Toad!" 

Alas!  they  should  have  thought,  they  ought 
to  have  been  more  prudent,  they  should  have 
remembered  to  stop  the  motor-car  somehow 
before  playing  any  pranks  of  that  sort.  With 
a  half-turn  of  the  wheel  the  Toad  sent  the  car 
crashing  through  the  low  hedge  that  ran  along 
the  roadside.  One  mighty  bound,  a  violent 
shock,  and  the  wheels  of  the  car  were  churning 
up  the  thick  mud  of  a  horse-pond. 

Toad  found  himself  flying  through  the  air 
with  the  strong  upward  rush  and  delicate  curve 
of  a  swallow.  He  liked  the  motion,  and  was 
just  beginning  to  wonder  whether  it  would  go 
on  until  he  developed  wings  and  turned  into  a 
Toad-bird,  when  he  landed  on  his  back  with  a 

282 


FURTHER   ADVENTURES 

thump,  in  the  soft,  rich  grass  of  a  meadow. 
Sitting  up,  he  could  just  see  the  motor-car  in 
the  pond,  nearly  submerged;  the  gentlemen 
and  the  driver,  encumbered  by  their  long  coats, 
were  floundering  helplessly  in  the  water. 

He  picked  himself  up  rapidly,  and  set  off 
running  across  country  as  hard  as  he  could, 
scrambling  through  hedges,  jumping  ditches, 
pounding  across  fields,  till  he  was  breathless  and 
weary,  and  had  to  settle  down  into  an  easy 
walk.  When  he  had  recovered  his  breath  some- 
what, and  was  able  to  think  calmly,  he  began  to 
giggle,  and  from  giggling  he  took  to  laughing, 
and  he  laughed  till  he  had  to  sit  down  under  a 
hedge.  "Ho!  ho!"  he  cried,  in  ecstasies  of  self- 
admiration.  "Toad  again!  Toad,  as  usual, 
comes  out  on  the  top!  Who  was  it  got  them 
to  give  him  a  lift?  Who  managed  to  get  on 
the  front  seat  for  the  sake  of  fresh  air?  Who 
persuaded  them  into  letting  him  see  if  he  could 
drive?  Who  landed  them  all  in  a  horse-pond? 
Who  escaped,  flying  gaily  and  unscathed  through 
the  air,  leaving  the  narrow-minded,  grudging, 
timid  excursionists  in  the  mud  where  they 

283 


THE   WIND   IN   THE   WILLOWS 

should    rightly    be?      Why,    Toad,    of    course; 
clever  Toad,  great  Toad,  good  Toad!" 

Then  he  burst  into  song  again,  and  chanted 
with  uplifted  voice  - 

"The  motor-car  went  Poop-poop-poop, 

As  it  raced  along  the  road. 
Who  was  it  steered  it  into  a  pond? 
Ingenious  Mr.  Toad! 

O,  how  clever  I  am!     How  clever,  how  clever, 
how  very  clev- 

A  slight  noise  at  a  distance  behind  him  made 
him  turn  his  head  and  look.  O  horror!  0 
misery!  O  despair! 

About  two  fields  off,  a  chauffeur  in  his  leather 
gaiters  and  two  large  rural  policemen  were 
visible,  running  towards  him  as  hard  as  they 
could  go! 

Poor  Toad  sprang  to  his  feet  and  pelted  away 
again,  his  heart  in  his  mouth.  "O,  my!"  he 
gasped,  as  he  panted  along,  "what  an  ass  I  am! 
What  a  conceited  and  heedless  ass!  Swaggering 
again!  Shouting  and  singing  songs  again!  Sit- 
ting still  and  gassing  again!  O  my!  O  my! 
O  my!" 

£84 


FURTHER   ADVENTURES 

He  glanced  back,  and  saw  to  his  dismay  that 
they  were  gaining  on  him.  On  he  ran  desper- 
ately, but  kept  looking  back,  and  saw  that  they 
still  gained  steadily.  He  did  his  best,  but  he 
was  a  fat  animal,  and  his  legs  were  short,  and 
still  they  gained.  He  could  hear  them  close 
behind  him  now.  Ceasing  to  heed  where  he 
was  going,  he  struggled  on  blindly  and  wildly, 
looking  back  over  his  shoulder  at  the  now  tri- 
umphant enemy,  when  suddenly  the  earth  failed 
under  his  feet,  he  grasped  at  the  air,  and, 
splash!  he  found  himself  head  over  ears  in  deep 
water,  rapid  water,  water  that  bore  him  along 
with  a  force  he  could  not  contend  with;  and  he 
knew  that  in  his  blind  panic  he  had  run  straight 
into  the  river! 

He  rose  to  the  surface  and  tried  to  grasp 
the  reeds  and  the  rushes  that  grew  along  the 
water's  edge  close  under  the  bank,  but  the 
stream  wTas  so  strong  that  it  tore  them  out  of 
his  hands.  "O  my!"  gasped  poor  Toad,  "if 
ever  I  steal  a  motor-car  again!  If  ever  I  sing 
another  conceited  song"  —then  down  he  went, 
and  came  up  breathless  and  spluttering.  Pres- 

285 


THE   WIND    IN   THE    WILLOWS 

ently  he  saw  that  he  was  approaching  a  big 
dark  hole  in  the  bank,  just  above  his  head,  and 
as  the  stream  bore  him  past  he  reached  up  with 
a  paw  and  caught  hold  of  the  edge  and  held 
on.  Then  slowly  and  with  difficulty  he  drew 
himself  up  out  of  the  water,  till  at  last  he  was 
able  to  rest  his  elbows  on  the  edge  of  the  hole. 
There  he  remained  for  some  minutes,  puffing 
and  panting,  for  he  was  quite  exhausted. 

As  he  sighed  and  blew  and  stared  before  him 
into  the  dark  hole,  some  bright  small  thing 
shone  and  twinkled  in  its  depths,  moving  to- 
wards him.  As  it  approached,  a  face  grew  up 
gradually  around  it,  and  it  was  a  familiar  face! 

Brown  and  small,  with  whiskers. 

Grave  and  round,  with  neat  ears  and  silky 
hair. 

It  was  the  Water  Rat! 


286 


XI 

"LIKE   SUMMER   TEMPESTS 
CAME   HIS   TEARS" 


XT 

"LIKE   SUMMER   TEMPESTS 
CAME   HIS   TEARS" 

^  I^HE  Rat  put  out  a  neat  little  brown  paw, 
•*•  gripped  Toad  firmly  by  the  scruff  of  the 
neck,  and  gave  a  great  hoist  and  a  pull;  and 
the  water-logged  Toad  came  up  slowly  but 
surely  over  the  edge  of  the  hole,  till  at  last  he 
stood  safe  and  sound  in  the  hall,  streaked  with 
mud  and  weed,  to  be  sure,  and  with  the  water 
streaming  off  him,  but  happy  and  high-spirited 
as  of  old,  now  that  he  found  himself  once  more 
in  the  house  of  a  friend,  and  dodgings  and 
evasions  were  over,  and  he  could  lay  aside  a 
disguise  that  was  unworthy  of  his  position  and 
wanted  such  a  lot  of  living  up  to. 

"O,  Ratty!"  he  cried.  "I've  been  through 
such  times  since  I  saw  you  last,  you  can't  think! 
Such  trials,  such  sufferings,  and  all  so  nobly 

289 


THE    AVIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

borne!  Then  such  escapes,  such  disguises,  such 
subterfuges,  and  all  so  cleverly  planned  and 
carried  out!  Been  in  prison -- got  out  of  it, 
of  course !  Been  thrown  into  a  canal  -  -  swam 
ashore !  Stole  a  horse  -  -  sold  him  for  a  large 
sum  of  money!  Humbugged  everybody  -  -  made 
'em  all  do  exactly  what  I  wanted!  Oh,  I  am  a 
smart  Toad,  and  no  mistake!  What  do  you 
think  my  last  exploit  was?  Just  hold  on  till  I 
tell  you  —  " 

'Toad,"  said  the  Water  Rat,  gravely  and 
firmly,  "you  go  off  upstairs  at  once,  and  take 
off  that  old  cotton  rag  that  looks  as  if  it  might 
formerly  have  belonged  to  some  washerwoman, 
and  clean  yourself  thoroughly,  and  put  on  some 
of  my  clothes,  and  try  and  come  down  looking 
like  a  gentleman  if  you  can;  for  a  more  shabby, 
bedraggled,  disreputable-looking  object  than  you 
are  I  never  set  eyes  on  in  my  whole  life!  Now, 
stop  swaggering  and  arguing,  and  be  off !  I  '11 
have  something  to  say  to  you  later!" 

Toad  \vas  at  first  inclined  to  stop  and  do 
some  talking  back  at  him.  He  had  had  enough 
of  being  ordered  about  when  he  was  in  prison, 

290 


'LIKE   SUMMER   TEMPESTS' 

and  here  was  the  thing  being  begun  all  over 
again,  apparently;  and  by  a  Rat,  too!  How- 
ever, he  caught  sight  of  himself  in  the  looking- 
glass  over  the  hat-stand,  with  the  rusty  black 
bonnet  perched  rakishly  over  one  eye,  and  he 
changed  his  mind  and  went  very  quickly  and 
humbly  upstairs  to  the  Rat's  dressing-room. 
There  he  had  a  thorough  wash  and  brush-up, 
changed  his  clothes,  and  stood  for  a  long  time 
before  the  glass,  contemplating  himself  with 
pride  and  pleasure,  and  thinking  what  utter 
idiots  all  the  people  must  have  been  to  have 
ever  mistaken  him  for  one  moment  for  a  wash- 
erwoman. 

By  the  time  he  came  down  again  luncheon 
was  on  the  table,  and  very  glad  Toad  was  to 
see  it,  for  he  had  been  through  some  trying  ex- 
periences and  had  taken  much  hard  exercise 
since  the  excellent  breakfast  provided  for  him 
by  the  gipsy.  While  they  ate  Toad  told  the  Rat 
all  his  adventures,  dwelling  chiefly  on  his  own 
cleverness,  and  presence  of  mind  in  emergencies, 
and  cunning  in  tight  places;  and  rather  making 
out  that  he  had  been  having  a  gay  and  highly  - 

291 


THE   WIND   IN   THE   WILLOWS 

coloured  experience.  But  the  more  he  talked 
and  boasted,  the  more  grave  and  silent  the  Rat 
became. 

When  at  last  Toad  had  talked  himself  to  a 
standstill,  there  was  silence  for  a  while;  and 
then  the  Rat  said,  "Now,  Toady,  I  don't  want 
to  give  you  pain,  after  all  you  've  been  through 
already;  but,  seriously,  don't  you  see  what  an 
awful  ass  you  've  been  making  of  yourself?  On 
your  own  admission  you  have  been  hand-cuffed, 
imprisoned,  starved,  chased,  terrified  out  of 
your  life,  insulted,  jeered  at,  and  ignominiously 
flung  into  the  water  —  by  a  woman,  too! 
Where  's  the  amusement  in  that?  Where  does 
the  fun  come  in?  And  all  because  you  must 
needs  go  and  steal  a  motor-car.  You  know  that 
you  Ve  never  had  anything  but  trouble  from 
motor-cars  from  the  moment  you  first  set  eyes 
on  one.  But  if  you  will  be  mixed  up  with 
them  -  -  as  you  generally  are,  five  minutes  after 
you  've  started  —  why  steal  them?  Be  a  crip- 
ple, if  you  think  it 's  exciting;  be  a  bankrupt, 
for  a  change,  if  you  've  set  your  mind  on  it  : 
but  why  choose  to  be  a  convict?  When  are  you 

292 


ltn-i-Uinf/  cJiicflij  on  7ns  fiirii  rJrt'i-rm-M.' 
presence  uf  mind  in  <'incfij<-iifii'n 


LIKE   SUMMER   TEMPESTS 


•>  ? 


going  to  be  sensible  and  think  of  your  friends, 
and  try  and  be  a  credit  to  them?  Do  you 
suppose  it 's  any  pleasure  to  me,  for  instance, 
to  hear  animals  saying,  as  I  go  about,  that 
I  'm  the  chap  that  keeps  company  with  gaol- 
birds?" 

Now,  it  was  a  very  comforting  point  in 
Toad's  character  that  he  was  a  thoroughly 
good-hearted  animal,  and  never  minded  being 
jawed  by  those  who  were  his  real  friends.  And 
even  when  most  set  upon  a  thing,  he  was 
always  able  to  see  the  other  side  of  the  ques- 
tion. So  although,  while  the  Rat  was  talking 
so  seriously,  he  kept  saying  to  himself  muti- 
nously, "But  it  was  fun,  though!  Awful  fun!" 
and  making  strange  suppressed  noises  inside 
him,  k-i-ck-ck-ck,  and  poop-p-p,  and  other 
sounds  resembling  stifled  snorts,  or  the  opening 
of  soda-water  bottles,  yet  when  the  Rat  had 
quite  finished,  he  heaved  a  deep  sigh  and  said, 
very  nicely  and  humbly,  "Quite  right,  Ratty! 
How  sound  you  always  are!  Yes,  I  've  been  a 
conceited  old  ass,  I  can  quite  see  that;  but  now 
I  'm  going  to  be  a  good  Toad,  and  not  do  it 

293 


TIIK   WIND   IN   THE   WILLOWS 

any  more.  As  for  motor-cars,  I  've  not  been  at 
all  so  keen  about  them  since  my  last  ducking 
in  that  river  of  yours.  The  fact  is,  while  I 
was  hanging  on  to  the  edge  of  your  hole  and 
and  getting  my  breath,  I  had  a  sudden  idea  - 
a  really  brilliant  idea  -  -  connected  with  motor- 
boats -- there,  there!  don't  take  on  so,  old 
chap,  and  stamp,  and  upset  things;  it  was  only 
an  idea,  and  we  won't  talk  any  more  about  it 
now.  We  '11  have  our  coffee,  and  a  smoke,  and 
a  quiet  chat,  and  then  I  'm  going  to  stroll 
quietly  down  to  Toad  Hall,  and  get  into  clothes 
of  my  own,  and  set  things  going  again  on  the 
old  lines.  I  've  had  enough  of  adventures.  I 
shall  lead  a  quiet,  steady,  respectable  life,  pot- 
tering about  my  property,  and  improving  it, 
and  doing  a  little  landscape  gardening  at  times. 
There  will  always  be  a  bit  of  dinner  for  my 
friends  when  they  come  to  see  me;  and  I  shall 
keep  a  pony-chaise  to  jog  about  the  country  in, 
just  as  I  used  to  in  the  good  old  days,  before 
I  got  restless,  and  wanted  to  do  things." 

"Stroll  quietly  down  to  Toad  Hall?"  cried  the 
Rat,  greatly  excited.     "What  are  you  talking 

294 


"LIKE   SUMMER  TEMPESTS' 

about?      Do   you    mean    to    say   you    haven't 
heard?" 

:< Heard  what?"  said  Toad,  turning  rather 
pale.  "Go  on,  Ratty!  Quick!  Don't  spare 
me!  What  haven't  I  heard?" 

:'Do  you  mean  to  tell  me,"  shouted  the  Rat, 
thumping  with  his  little  fist  upon  the  table, 
:'that  you  've  heard  nothing  about  the  Stoats 
and  Weasels?" 

"What,  the  Wild  Wooders?"  cried  Toad, 
trembling  in  every  limb.  :'No,  not  a  word! 
What  have  they  been  doing?'' 

—  And  how  they  've  been  and  taken  Toad 
Hall?"  continued  the  Rat. 

Toad  leaned  his  elbows  on  the  table,  and  his 
chin  on  his  paws;  and  a  large  tear  welled  up  in 
each  of  his  eyes,  overflowed  and  splashed  on 
the  table,  plop!  plop! 

:'Go  on,  Ratty,"  he  murmured  presently; 
"tell  me  all.  The  worst  is  over.  I  am  an  ani- 
mal again.  I  can  bear  it." 

'When  you — got — into  that — that — troub- 
le of  yours,"  said  the  Rat,  slowly  and  impres- 
sively; :'I  mean,  when  you  —  disappeared  from 

295 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

society  for  a  time,  over  that  misunderstanding 
about  a  -  -  a  machine,  you  know  - 

Toad  merely  nodded. 

"Well,  it  was  a  good  deal  talked  about  down 
here,  naturally,"  continued  the  Rat,  "not  only 
along  the  river-side,  but  even  in  the  Wild  Wood. 
Animals  took  sides,  as  always  happens.  The 
River-bankers  stuck  up  for  you,  and  said  you 
had  been  infamously  treated,  and  there  was  no 
justice  to  be  had  in  the  land  nowadays.  But 
the  Wild  Wood  animals  said  hard  things,  and 
served  you  right,  and  it  was  time  this  sort  of 
thing  was  stopped.  And  they  got  very  cocky, 
and  went  about  saying  you  were  done  for  this 
time!  You  would  never  come  back  again,  never, 
never!" 

Toad  nodded  once  more,  keeping  silence. 

'That's  the  sort  of  little  beasts  they  are/* 
the  Rat  went  on.  'But  Mole  and  Badger,  they 
stuck  out,  through  thick  and  thin,  that  you 
would  come  back  again  soon,  somehow.  They 
didn't  know  exactly  how,  but  somehow!" 

Toad  began  to  sit  up  in  his  chair  again,  and 
to  smirk  a  little. 

296 


"LIKE   SUMMER   TEMPESTS' 

"They  argued  from  history,"  continued  the 
Rat.  'They  said  that  no  criminal  laws  had 
ever  been  known  to  prevail  against  cheek  and 
plausibility  such  as  yours,  combined  with  the 
power  of  a  long  purse.  So  they  arranged  to 
move  their  things  in  to  Toad  Hall,  and  sleep 
there,  and  keep  it  aired,  and  have  it  all  ready 
for  you  when  you  turned  up.  They  didn't  guess 
what  was  going  to  happen,  of  course;  still,  they 
had  their  suspicions  of  the  Wild  Wood  animals. 
Now  I  come  to  the  most  painful  and  tragic  part 
of  my  story.  One  dark  night — it  was  a  very 
dark  night,  and  blowing  hard,  too,  and  raining 
simply  cats  and  dogs  —  a  band  of  weasels, 
armed  to  the  teeth,  crept  silently  up  the  carriage- 
drive  to  the  front  entrance.  Simultaneously,  a 
body  of  desperate  ferrets,  advancing  through 
the  kitchen-garden,  possessed  themselves  of  the 
backyard  and  offices;  while  a  company  of  skir- 
mishing stoats  who  stuck  at  nothing  occupied 
the  conservatory  and  the  billiard-room,  and  held 
the  French  windows  opening  on  to  the  lawn. 

'The  Mole  and  the  Badger  were  sitting  by 
the  fire  in  the  smoking-room,  telling  stories  and 

297 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

suspecting  nothing,  for  it  wasn't  a  night  for 
any  animals  to  be  out  in,  when  those  blood- 
thirsty villains  broke  down  the  doors  and 
rushed  in  upon  them  from  every  side.  They 
made  the  best  fight  they  could,  but  what  was 
the  good?  They  were  unarmed,  and  taken  by 
surprise,  and  what  can  two  animals  do  against 
hundreds?  They  took  and  beat  them  severely 
with  sticks,  those  two  poor  faithful  creatures, 
and  turned  them  out  into  the  cold  and  the  wet, 
with  many  insulting  and  lancalled-f or  remarks !': 

Here  the  unfeeling  Toad  broke  into  a  snigger, 
and  then  pulled  himself  together  and  tried  to 
look  particularly  solemn. 

"And  the  Wild  Wooders  have  been  living  in 
Toad  Hall  ever  since,"  continued  the  Rat;  :'and 
going  on  simply  anyhow!  Lying  in  bed  half 
the  day,  and  breakfast  at  all  hours,  and  the 
place  in  such  a  mess  (I  'm  told)  it 's  not  fit  to  be 
seen!  Eating  your  grub,  and  drinking  your 
drink,  and  making  bad  jokes  about  you,  and 
singing  vulgar  songs,  about  —  well,  about  pris- 
ons and  magistrates,  and  policemen;  horrid  per- 
sonal songs,  with  no  humour  in  them.  And 

298 


'LIKE   SUMMER  TEMPESTS' 

they  're  telling  the  tradespeople  and  everybody 
that  they  've  come  to  stay  for  good." 

"O,  have  they!"  said  Toad,  getting  up  and 
seizing  a  stick.  :'I  '11  jolly  soon  see  about 
that!" 

"It's  no  good,  Toad!"  called  the  Rat  after 
him.  'You  'd  better  come  back  and  sit  down; 
you  '11  only  get  into  trouble." 

But  the  Toad  was  off,  and  there  was  no 
holding  him.  He  marched  rapidly  down  the 
road,  his  stick  over  his  shoulder,  fuming  and 
muttering  to  himself  in  his  anger,  till  he  got 
near  his  front  gate,  when  suddenly  there  popped 
up  from  behind  the  palings  a  long  yellow  ferret 
with  a  gun. 

Who  comes  there?"  said  the  ferret  sharply. 
Stuff  and  nonsense ! "  said  Toad,  very  angrily. 
'What  do  you  mean  by  talking  like  that  to  me? 
Come  out  of  that  at  once  or  I  '11 — " 

The  ferret  said  never  a  word,  but  he  brought 
his  gun  up  to  his  shoulder.  Toad  prudently 
dropped  flat  in  the  road,  and  Bang!  a  bullet 
whistled  over  his  head. 

The  startled  Toad  scrambled  to  his  feet  and 

299 


(C 

» > 


THE   WIND   IN   THE   WILLOWS 

scampered  off  down  the  road  as  hard  as  he 
could;  and  as  he  ran  he  heard  the  ferret  laugh- 
ing and  other  horrid  thin  little  laughs  taking  it 
up  and  carrying  on  the  sound. 

He  went  back,  very  crestfallen,  and  told  the 
Water  Rat. 

"What  did  I  tell  you?"  said  the  Rat.  "It 's 
no  good.  They  've  got  sentries  posted,  and 
they  are  all  armed.  You  must  just  wait." 

Still,  Toad  was  not  inclined  to  give  in  all  at 
once.  So  he  got  out  the  boat,  and  set  off 
rowing  up  the  river  to  where  the  garden  front 
of  Toad  Hall  came  down  to  the  waterside. 

Arriving  within  sight  of  his  old  home,  he 
rested  on  his  oars  and  surveyed  the  land  cau- 
tiously. All  seemed  very  peaceful  and  deserted 
and  quiet.  He  could  see  the  whole  front  of 
Toad  Hall,  glowing  in  the  evening  sunshine, 
the  pigeons  settling  by  twos  and  threes  along 
the  straight  line  of  the  roof;  the  garden,  a 
blaze  of  flowers;  the  creek  that  led  up  to  the 
boat-house,  the  little  wooden  bridge  that  crossed 
it;  all  tranquil,  uninhabited,  apparently  waiting 
for  his  return.  He  would  try  the  boat-house 

300 


"LIKE   SUMMER  TEMPESTS' 

first,  he  thought.  Very  warily  he  paddled  up 
to  the  mouth  of  the  creek,  and  was  just  passing 
under  the  bridge,  when  .  .  .  Crash! 

A  great  stone,  dropped  from  above,  smashed 
through  the  bottom  of  the  boat.  It  filled  and 
sank,  and  Toad  found  himself  struggling  in 
deep  water.  Looking  up,  he  saw  two  stoats 
leaning  over  the  parapet  of  the  bridge  and 
watching  him  with  great  glee.  :'It  will  be 
your  head  next  time,  Toady!"  they  called  out 
to  him.  The  indignant  Toad  swam  to  shore, 
while  the  stoats  laughed  and  laughed,  support- 
ing each  other,  and  laughed  again,  till  they 
nearly  had  two  fits  —  that  is,  one  fit  each,  of 
course. 

The  Toad  retraced  his  weary  way  on  foot, 
and  related  his  disappointing  experiences  to  the 
Water  Rat  once  more. 

"Well,  what  did  I  tell  you?"  said  the  Rat 
very  crossly.  "And,  now,  look  here!  See  what 
you  've  been  and  done!  Lost  me  my  boat  that 
I  was  so  fond  of,  that's  what  you've  done! 
And  simply  ruined  that  nice  suit  of  clothes  that 
I  lent  you!  Really,  Toad,  of  all  the  trying  ani- 

301 


THK    WIND   IN    THE    WILLOWS 

inals  -  - 1  wonder  you  manage  to  keep  any 
friends  at  all!" 

The   Toad    saw    at    once   how    wrongly    and 
foolishly  he  had  acted.     He  admitted  his  errors 

«/ 

and  wrong-headedness  and  made  a  full  apology 
to  Rat  for  losing  his  boat  and  spoiling  his 
clothes.  And  he  wound  up  by  saying,  with 
that  frank  self-surrender  which  always  dis- 
armed his  friends'  criticism  and  won  them  back 
to  his  side,  "Ratty!  I  see  that  I  have  been  a 
headstrong  and  a  wilful  Toad !  Henceforth,  be- 
lieve me,  I  will  be  humble  and  submissive,  and 
will  take  no  action  without  your  kind  advice 
and  full  approval!" 

'If  that  is  really  so,"  said  the  good-natured 
Rat,  already  appeased,  ''then  my  advice  to  you 
is,  considering  the  lateness  of  the  hour,  to  sit 
down  and  have  your  supper,  which  will  be  on 
the  table  in  a  minute,  and  be  very  patient.  For 
I  am  convinced  that  we  can  do  nothing  until 
we  have  seen  the  Mole  and  the  Badger,  and 
heard  their  latest  news,  and  held  conference  and 
taken  their  advice  in  this  difficult  matter." 

"Oh,  ah,  yes,  of  course,  the  Mole  and  the 

302 


'LIKE   SUMMER  TEMPESTS' 

Badger,"  said  Toad,  lightly.  'What 's  become 
of  them,  the  dear  fellows?  I  had  forgotten  all 
about  them." 

'Well  may  you  ask!"  said  the  Rat  reproach- 
fully. '  While  you  were  riding  about  the  coun- 
try in  expensive  motor-cars,  and  galloping 
proudly  on  blood-horses,  and  breakfasting  on 
the  fat  of  the  land,  those  two  poor  devoted 
animals  have  been  camping  out  in  the  open,  in 
every  sort  of  weather,  living  very  rough  by  day 
and  lying  very  hard  by  night;  watching  over 
your  house,  patrolling  your  boundaries,  keeping 
a  constant  eye  on  the  stoats  and  the  weasels, 
scheming  and  planning  and  contriving  how  to 
get  your  property  back  for  you.  You  don't 
deserve  to  have  such  true  and  loyal  friends, 
Toad,  you  don't,  really.  Some  day,  when  it 's 
too  late,  you'  11  be  sorry  you  didn't  value  them 
more  while  you  had  them!" 

"I  'm  an  ungrateful  beast,  I  know,"  sobbed 
Toad,  shedding  bitter  tears.  'Let  me  go  out 
and  find  them,  out  into  the  cold,  dark  night, 
and  share  their  hardships,  and  try  and  prove 
by  -  -  Hold  on  a  bit!  Surely  I  heard  the  chink 

303 


THE    WIND    IN    TIIK    WILLOWS 

of  dishes  on  a  tray!  Supper  's  here  at  last, 
hooray!  Come  on,  Ratty!" 

The  Rat  remembered  that  poor  Toad  had 
been  on  prison  fare  for  a  considerable  time,  and 
that  large  allowances  had  therefore  to  be  made. 
He  followed  him  to  the  table  accordingly,  and 
hospitably  encouraged  him  in  his  gallant  efforts 
to  make  up  for  past  privations. 

They  had  just  finished  their  meal  and  re- 
sumed their  arm-chairs,  when  there  came  a 
heavy  knock  at  the  door. 

Toad  was  nervous,  but  the  Rat,  nodding 
mysteriously  at  him,  went  straight  up  to  the 
door  and  opened  it,  and  in  walked  Mr.  Badger. 

He  had  all  the  appearance  of  one  who  for 
some  nights  had  been  kept  away  from  home 
and  all  its  little  comforts  and  conveniences. 
His  shoes  were  covered  with  mud,  and  he  was 
looking  very  rough  and  touzled;  but  then  he 
had  never  been  a  very  smart  man,  the  Badger, 
at  the  best  of  times.  He  came  solemnly  up  to 
Toad,  shook  him  by  the  paw,  and  said,  "Wel- 
come home,  Toad!  Alas!  what  am  I  saying? 
Home,  indeed!  This  is  a  poor  home-coming. 

304 


"LIKE   SUMMER   TEMPESTS' 

Unhappy  Toad!"  Then  he  turned  his  back  on 
him,  sat  down  to  the  table,  drew  his  chair 
up,  and  helped  himself  to  a  large  slice  of  cold 
pie. 

Toad  was  quite  alarmed  at  this  very  serious 
and  portentous  style  of  greeting;  but  the  Rat 
whispered  to  him,  "Never  mind;  don't  take  any 
notice;  and  don't  say  anything  to  him  just  yet. 
He  's  always  rather  low  and  despondent  when 
he  's  wanting  his  victuals.  In  half  an  hour's 
time  he  '11  be  quite  a  different  animal." 

So  they  waited  in  silence,  and  presently  there 
came  another  and  a  lighter  knock.  The  Rat, 
with  a  nod  to  Toad,  went  to  the  door  and 
ushered  in  the  Mole,  very  shabby  and  un- 
washed, with  bits  of  hay  and  straw  sticking  in 
his  fur. 

"Hooray!  Here  's  old  Toad!"  cried  the  Mole, 
his  face  beaming.  "Fancy  having  you  back 
again!"  And  he  began  to  dance  round  him. 
"We  never  dreamt  you  would  turn  up  so  soon! 
Why,  you  must  have  managed  to  escape,  you 
clever,  ingenious,  intelligent  Toad!" 

The  Rat,  alarmed,  pulled  him  by  the  elbow; 

305 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

but   it   was   too  late.     Toad   was  puffing   and 
swelling  already. 

"Clever?  O,  no!"  he  said.  "I  'm  not  really 
clever,  according  to  my  friends.  I  've  only 
broken  out  of  the  strongest  prison  in  England, 
that 's  all !  And  captured  a  railway  train  and 
escaped  on  it,  that 's  all!  And  disguised  myself 
and  gone  about  the  country  humbugging  every- 
body, that 's  all!  O,  no!  I  'm  a  stupid  ass,  I 
am!  I  '11  tell  you  one  or  two  of  my  little  ad- 
ventures, Mole,  and  you  shall  judge  for  your- 
self!" 

'Well,  well,"  said  the  Mole,  moving  towards 
the  supper-table;  "supposing  you  talk  while  I 
eat.  Not  a  bite  since  breakfast!  O  my!  O 
my!"  And  he  sat  down  and  helped  himself 
liberally  to  cold  beef  and  pickles. 

Toad  straddled  on  the  hearth-rug,  thrust  his 
paw  into  his  trouser-pocket  and  pulled  out  a 
handful  of  silver.  "Look  at  that!"  he  cried, 
displaying  it.  'That 's  not  so  bad,  is  it,  for 
a  few  minutes'  work?  And  how  do  you  think 
I  done  it,  Mole?  Horse-dealing!  That 's  how  I 
done  it!" 

306 


i  t 


LIKE   SUMMER   TEMPESTS" 


"Go  on,  Toad,"  said  the  Mole,  immensely 
interested. 

"Toad,  do  be  quiet,  please!"  said  the  Rat. 
"And  don't  you  egg  him  on,  Mole,  when  you 
know  what  he  is;  but  please  tell  us  as  soon  as 
possible  what  the  position  is,  and  what 's  best 
to  be  done,  now  that  Toad  is  back  at  last." 

"The  position  's  about  as  bad  as  it  can  be," 
replied  the  Mole  grumpily;  "and  as  for  what 's 
to  be  done,  why,  blest  if  I  know!  The  Badger 
and  I  have  been  round  and  round  the  place,  by 
night  and  by  day;  always  the  same  thing. 
Sentries  posted  everywhere,  guns  poked  out  at 
us,  stones  thrown  at  us;  always  an  animal  on 
the  look-out,  and  when  they  see  us,  my!  how 
they  do  laugh!  That 's  what  annoys  me  most!" 

"It 's  a  very  difficult  situation,"  said  the  Rat, 
reflecting  deeply.  "But  I  think  I  see  now,  in 
the  depths  of  my  mind,  what  Toad  really  ought 
to  do.  I  will  tell  you.  He  ought  to — " 

"No,  he  oughtn't!"  shouted  the  Mole,  with 
his  mouth  full.  "Nothing  of  the  sort!  You 
don't  understand.  What  he  ought  to  do  is,  he 

ought  to  — " 

307 


THE   WIND    IN    THE   WILLOWS 

"Well,  I  shan't  do  it,  anyway!"  cried  Toad, 
getting  excited.  'I  'm  not  going  to  be  ordered 
about  by  you  fellows!  It's  my  house  we're 
talking  about,  and  I  know  exactly,  what  to  do, 
and  I  '11  tell  you.  I  'm  going  to  - 

By  this  time  they  were  all  three  talking  at 
once,  at  the  top  of  their  voices,  and  the  noise 
was  simply  deafening,  when  a  thin,  dry  voice 
made  itself  heard,  saying,  "Be  quiet  at  once,  all 
of  you!"  and  instantly  every  one  was  silent. 

It  was  the  Badger,  who,  having  finished  his 
pie,  had  turned  round  in  his  chair  and  was 
looking  at  them  severely.  When  he  saw  that 
he  had  secured  their  attention,  and  that  they 
were  evidently  waiting  for  him  to  address  them, 
he  turned  back  to  the  table  again  and  reached 
out  for  the  cheese.  And  so  great  was  the 
respect  commanded  by  the  solid  qualities  of 
that  admirable  animal,  that  not  another  word 
was  uttered,  until  he  had  quite  finished  his 
repast  and  brushed  the  crumbs  from  his  knees. 
The  Toad  fidgeted  a  good  deal,  but  the  Rat 
held  him  firmly  down. 

When  the  Badger  had  quite  done,  he  got  up 

308 


'LIKE   SUMMER   TEMPESTS' 

from  his  seat  and  stood  before  the  fireplace, 
reflecting  deeply.  At  last  he  spoke. 

"Toad,"  he  said  severely.  'You  bad,  trouble- 
some little  animal!  Aren't  you  ashamed  of 
yourself?  What  do  you  think  your  father,  my 
old  friend,  would  have  said  if  he  had  been  here 
to-night,  and  had  known  of  all  your  goings  on?" 

Toad,  who  was  on  the  sofa  by  this  time,  with 
his  legs  up,  rolled  over  on  his  face,  shaken  by 
sobs  of  contrition. 

"There,  there!"  went  on  the  Badger,  more 
kindly.  "Never  mind.  Stop  crying.  We're 
going  to  let  bygones  be  bygones,  and  try  and 
turn  over  a  new  leaf.  But  what  the  Mole  says 
is  quite  true.  The  stoats  are  on  guard,  at  every 
point,  and  they  make  the  best  sentinels  in  the 
world.  It 's  quite  useless  to  think  of  attacking 
the  place.  They  're  too  strong  for  us." 

"Then  it 's  all  over,"  sobbed  the  Toad,  crying 
into  the  sofa  cushions.  "I  shall  go  and  enlist 
for  a  soldier,  and  never  see  my  dear  Toad  Hall 
any  more!" 

"Come,  cheer  up,  Toady!"  said  the  Badger. 
'There  are  more  ways  of  getting  back  a  place 

309 


THE   WIND   IN   THE   WILLOWS 

than  taking  it  by  storm.  I  haven't  said  my  last 
word  yet.  Now  I  'm  going  to  tell  you  a  great 
secret." 

Toad  sat  up  slowly  and  dried  his  eyes.  Se- 
crets had  an  immense  attraction  for  him,  because 
he  never  could  keep  one,  and  he  enjoyed  the 
sort  of  unhallowed  thrill  he  experienced  when 
he  went  and  told  another  animal,  after  having 
faithfully  promised  not  to. 

"There --is  -  -an --underground-  -passage," 
said  the  Badger,  impressively,  "that  leads  from 
the  river-bank,  quite  near  here,  right  up  into 
the  middle  of  Toad  Hall." 

"0,  nonsense!  Badger,"  said  Toad,  rather 
airily.  'You've  been  listening  to  some  of  the 
yarns  they  spin  in  the  public-houses  about  here. 
I  know  every  inch  of  Toad  Hall,  inside  and 
out.  Nothing  of  the  sort,  I  do  assure  you!" 

'My  young  friend,"  said  the  Badger,  with 
great  severity,  "your  father,  who  was  a  worthy 
animal  -  -  a  lot  worthier  than  some  others  I 
know  —  was  a  particular  friend  of  mine,  and 
told  me  a  great  deal  he  wouldn't  have  dreamt 
of  telling  you.  He  discovered  that  passage  — 

310 


"LIKE   SUMMER   TEMPESTS' 

he  didn't  make  it,  of  course;  that  was  done 
hundreds  of  years  before  he  ever  came  to  live 
there  —  and  he  repaired  it  and  cleaned  it  out, 
because  he  thought  it  might  come  in  useful 
some  day,  in  case  of  trouble  or  danger;  and 
he  showed  it  to  me.  'Don't  let  my  son  know 
about  it,'  he  said.  'He  's  a  good  boy,  but  very 
light  and  volatile  in  character,  and  simply  can- 
not hold  his  tongue.  If  he  's  ever  in  a  real  fix, 
and  it  wrould  be  of  use  to  him,  you  may  tell  him 
about  the  secret  passage;  but  not  before.' 

The  other  animals  looked  hard  at  Toad  to 
see  how  he  would  take  it.  Toad  was  inclined 
to  be  sulky  at  first;  but  he  brightened  up  imme- 
diately, like  the  good  fellow  he  was. 

'Well,  well,"  he  said;  'perhaps  I  am  a  bit  of 
a  talker.  A  popular  fellow  such  as  I  am  -  -  my 
friends  get  round  me  —  we  chaff,  we  sparkle, 
we  tell  witty  stories  —  and  somehow  my  tongue 
gets  wagging.  I  have  the  gift  of  conversation. 
I  've  been  told  I  ought  to  have  a  salon,  what- 
ever that  may  be.  Never  mind.  Go  on,  Badger. 
How  's  this  passage  of  yours  going  to  help  us?" 

"I  've  found  out  a  thing  or  two  lately,"  con- 

311 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

tinned  the  Badger.  'I  got  Otter  to  disguise 
himself  as  a  sweep  and  call  at  the  back-door 
with  brushes  over  his  shoulder,  asking  for  a  job. 
There  's  going  to  be  a  big  banquet  to-morrow 
night.  It 's  somebody's  birthday  —  the  Chief 
Weasel's,  I  believe  -  -  and  all  the  weasels  will  be 
gathered  together  in  the  dining-hall,  eating  and 
drinking  and  laughing  and  carrying  on,  suspect- 
ing nothing.  No  guns,  no  swords,  no  sticks,  no 
arms  of  any  sort  whatever!" 

'But  the  sentinels  will  be  posted  as  usual," 
remarked  the  Rat. 

"Exactly,"  said  the  Badger;  'that  is  my 
point.  The  weasels  will  trust  entirely  to  their 
excellent  sentinels.  And  that  is  where  the  pas- 
sage conies  in.  That  very  useful  tunnel  leads 
right  up  under  the  butler's  pantry,  next  to  the 
dining-hall!" 

"Aha!  that  squeaky  board  in  the  butler's 
pantry!"  said  Toad.  "Now  I  understand  it!" 

'We  shall  creep  out  quietly  into  the  butler's 
pantry — "  cried  the  Mole. 

;< —  with  our  pistols  and  swords  and  sticks 
— "  shouted  the  Rat. 

312 


"LIKE   SUMMER  TEMPESTS' 

" —  and  rush  in  upon  them,"  said  the  Badger. 

" —  and  whack  'em,  and  whack  'em,  and 
whack  'em!"  cried  the  Toad  in  ecstasy,  running 
round  and  round  the  room,  and  jumping  over 
the  chairs. 

"Very  well,  then,"  said  the  Badger,  resuming 
his  usual  dry  manner,  "our  plan  is  settled,  and 
there  's  nothing  more  for  you  to  argue  and 
squabble  about.  So,  as  it 's  getting  very  late, 
all  of  you  go  right  off  to  bed  at  once.  We  will 
make  all  the  necessary  arrangements  in  the 
course  of  the  morning  to-morrow." 

Toad,  of  course,  went  off  to  bed  dutifully 
with  the  rest  —  he  knew  better  than  to  refuse  — 
though  he  was  feeling  much  too  excited  to 
sleep.  But  he  had  had  a  long  day,  with  many 
events  crowded  into  it;  and  sheets  and  blankets 
were  very  friendly  and  comforting  things,  after 
plain  straw,  and  not  too  much  of  it,  spread  on 
the  stone  floor  of  a  draughty  cell;  and  his  head 
had  not  been  many  seconds  on  his  pillow  before 
he  was  snoring  happily.  Naturally,  he  dreamt 
a  good  deal;  about  roads  that  ran  away  from 
him  just  when  he  wanted  them,  and  canals  that 

313 


THE    WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

chased  him  and  caught  him,  and  a  barge  that 
sailed  into  the  banqueting-hall  with  his  week's 
washing,  just  as  he  was  giving  a  dinner-party; 
and  he  was  alone  in  the  secret  passage,  pushing 
onwards,  but  it  twisted  and  turned  round  and 
shook  itself,  and  sat  up  on  its  end ;  yet  somehow, 
at  the  last,  he  found  himself  back  in  Toad  Hall, 
safe  and  triumphant,  with  all  his  friends  gath- 
ered round  about  him,  earnestly  assuring  him 
that  he  really  was  a  clever  Toad. 

He  slept  till  a  late  hour  next  morning,  and  by 
the  time  he  got  down  he  found  that  the  other 
animals  had  finished  their  breakfast  some  time 
before.  The  Mole  had  slipped  off  somewhere 
by  himself,  without  telling  any  one  where  he 
was  going  to.  The  Badger  sat  in  the  arm-chair, 
reading  the  paper,  and  not  concerning  himself 
in  the  slightest  about  what  was  going  to  happen 
that  very  evening.  The  Rat,  on  the  other  hand, 
was  running  round  the  room  busily,  with  his 
arms  full  of  weapons  of  every  kind,  distributing 
them  in  four  little  heaps  on  the  floor,  and  saying 
excitedly  under  his  breath,  as  he  ran,  "Here  's-a- 
sword  -  for  -  the  -  Rat,  here  's  -  a  -  sword  -  for  -  the  - 

314 


"LIKE   SUMMER   TEMPESTS' 

Mole,  here  's -a -sword -for -the -Toad, here  's-a- 
sword  -  for  -  the  -  Badger !  Here  's  -  a  -  pistol  -  for  - 
the -Rat,  here  's-a-pistol -for -the -Mole,  here  's- 
a- pistol -for -the -Toad,  here  's  -  a  -  pistol  -  for  - 
the -Badger!"  And  so  on,  in  a  regular,  rhyth- 
mical way,  while  the  four  little  heaps  gradually 
grew  and  grew. 

"That 's  all  very  well,  Rat,"  said  the  Badger 
presently,  looking  at  the  busy  little  animal  over 
the  edge  of  his  newspaper;  ''I  'm  not  blaming 
you.  But  just  let  us  once  get  past  the  stoats, 
with  those  detestable  guns  of  theirs,  and  I  assure 
you  we  shan't  want  any  swords  or  pistols.  We 
four,  with  our  sticks,  once  we  're  inside  the 
dining-hall,  why,  we  shall  clear  the  floor  of  all 
the  lot  of  them  in  five  minutes.  I  'd  have  done 
the  whole  thing  by  myself,  only  I  didn't  want 
to  deprive  you  fellows  of  the  fun!" 

'It 's  as  well  to  be  on  the  safe  side,"  said  the 
Rat  reflectively,  polishing  a  pistol-barrel  on  his 
sleeve  and  looking  along  it. 

The  Toad,  having  finished  his  breakfast, 
picked  up  a  stout  stick  and  swung  it  vigorously, 
belabouring  imaginary  animals.  "I  '11  learn  'em 

315 


THE   WIND    IN    THE   WILLOWS 

to  steal  my  house!"  he  cried.      'I  '11  learn  'em, 
I  '11  learn  Yin!" 

"Don't  say  'learn  'em,'  Toad,"  said  the  Rat, 
greatly  shocked.  "It's  not  good  English." 

"What  are  you  always  nagging  at  Toad  for?' 
inquired  the  Badger,  rather  peevishly.     'What 's 
the  matter  with  his  English?    It 's  the  same  what 
I  use  myself,  and  if  it 's  good  enough  for  me,  it 
ought  to  be  good  enough  for  you!" 

"I  'm  very  sorry,"  said  the  Rat  humbly. 
"Only  I  think  it  ought  to  be  'teach  'em,'  not 
'learn  Ym.'! 

"But  we  don't  want  to  teach  'em,"  replied  the 
Badger.  "We  want  to  learn  'em-  -learn  'em, 
learn  'em!  And  what's  more,  we're  going  to 
do  it,  too!" 

"Oh,  very  well,  have  it  your  own  way,"  said 
the  Rat.  He  was  getting  rather  muddled  about 
it  himself,  and  presently  he  retired  into  a  corner, 
where  he  could  be  heard  muttering,  "Learn  Ym, 
teach  Ym,  teach  Ym,  learn  Ym!"  till  the  Badger 
told  him  rather  sharply  to  leave  off. 

Presently  the  Mole  came  tumbling  into  the 
room,  evidently  very  pleased  with  himself. 

316 


'LIKE    SUMMER   TEMPESTS' 

"I  've  been  having  such  fun!"  he  began  at  once; 
"I  've  been  getting  a  rise  out  of  the  stoats!" 

"I  hope  you  've  been  very  careful,  Mole?" 
said  the  Rat  anxiously. 

"I  should  hope  so,  too,"  said  the  Mole  con- 
fidently. :<I  got  the  idea  when  I  went  into  the 
kitchen,  to  see  about  Toad's  breakfast  being 
kept  hot  for  him.  I  found  that  old  washer- 
woman-dress that  he  came  home  in  yesterday, 
hanging  on  a  towel-horse  before  the  fire.  So  I 
put  it  on,  and  the  bonnet  as  well,  and  the  shawl, 
and  off  I  went  to  Toad  Hall,  as  bold  as  you 
please.  The  sentries  were  on  the  look-out,  of 
course,  with  their  guns  and  their  'Who  comes 
there?'  and  all  the  rest  of  their  nonsense. 
'Good  morning,  gentlemen!'  says  I,  very  re- 
spectful. 'Want  any  washing  done  to-day?' 
They  looked  at  me  very  proud  and  stiff  and 
haughty,  and  said,  'Go  away,  washerwoman! 
We  don't  do  any  washing  on  duty.'  'Or  any 
other  time?'  says  I.  Ho,  ho,  ho!  Wasn't  I 
funny,  Toad?" 

"Poor,  frivolous  animal!"  said  Toad,  very 
loftily.  The  fact  is,  he  felt  exceedingly  jealous 

317 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

of  Mole  for  what  he  had  just  done.  It  was 
exactly  what  he  would  have  liked  to  have  done 
himself,  if  only  he  had  thought  of  it  first,  and 
hadn't  gone  and  overslept  himself. 

"Some  of  the  stoats  turned  quite  pink,"  con- 
tinued the  Mole,  "and  the  Sergeant  in  charge, 
he  said  to  me,  very  short,  he  said,  'Now  run 
away,  my  good  woman,  run  away!  Don't  keep 
my  men  idling  and  talking  on  their  posts.' 
'Run  away?'  says  I;  'it  won't  be  me  that'll 
be  running  away,  in  a  very  short  time  from 
now!'" 

"O  Moly,  how  could  you?"  said  the  Rat,  dis- 
mayed. 

The  Badger  laid  down  his  paper. 

"I  could  see  them  pricking  up  their  ears  and 
looking  at  each  other,"  went  on  the  Mole; 
"and  the  Sergeant  said  to  them,  'Never  mind 
her;  she  doesn't  know  what  she 's  talking 
about. '; 

"'O!  don't  I?' said  I.  'Well,  let  me  tell  you 
this.  My  daughter,  she  washes  for  Mr.  Badger, 
and  that  '11  show  you  whether  I  know  what 
I  'm  talking  about;  and  you  'II  know  pretty 

318 


"LIKE    SUMMER   TEMPESTS 


i  ? 


soon,  too!  A  hundred  bloodthirsty  badgers, 
armed  with  rifles,  are  going  to  attack  Toad  Hall 
this  very  night,  by  way  of  the  paddock.  Six 
boatloads  of  Rats,  with  pistols  and  cutlasses, 
will  come  up  the  river  and  effect  a  landing  in 
the  garden;  while  a  picked  body  of  Toads, 
known  as  the  Die-hards,  or  the  Death-or-Glory 
Toads,  will  storm  the  orchard  and  carry  every- 
thing before  them,  yelling  for  vengeance.  There 
won't  be  much  left  of  you  to  wash,  by  the  time 
they  've  done  with  you,  unless  you  clear  out 
while  you  have  the  chance ! '  Then  I  ran  away, 
and  when  I  was  out  of  sight  I  hid;  and  pres- 
ently I  came  creeping  back  along  the  ditch 
and  took  a  peep  at  them  through  the  hedge. 
They  were  all  as  nervous  and  flustered  as  could 
be,  running  all  ways  at  once,  and  falling  over 
each  other,  and  every  one  giving  orders  to  every- 
body else  and  not  listening;  and  the  Sergeant 
kept  sending  off  parties  of  stoats  to  distant 
parts  of  the  grounds,  and  then  sending  other 
fellows  to  fetch  'em  back  again;  and  I  heard 
them  saying  to  each  other,  'That 's  just  like 
the  weasels;  they  're  to  stop  comfortably  in  the 

319 


THE    WIND   IN   THE   WILLOWS 

banqueting-hall,  and  have  feasting  and  toasts 
and  songs  and  all  sorts  of  fun,  while  we  must 
stay  on  guard  in  the  cold  and  the  dark,  and 
in  the  end  be  cut  to  pieces  by  bloodthirsty 
Badgers ! ' 

"Oh,  you  silly  ass,  Mole!"  cried  Toad, 
"You  've  been  and  spoilt  everything!" 

"Mole,"  said  the  Badger,  in  his  dry,  quiet  way, 
"I  perceive  you  have  more  sense  in  your  little 
finger  than  some  other  animals  have  in  the 
whole  of  their  fat  bodies.  You  have  managed 
excellently,  and  I  begin  to  have  great  hopes  of 
you.  Good  Mole!  Clever  Mole!" 

The  Toad  was  simply  wild  with  jealousy, 
more  especially  as  he  couldn't  make  out  for 
the  life  of  him  what  the  Mole  had  done  that 
wras  so  particularly  clever;  but,  fortunately  for 
him,  before  he  could  show  temper  or  expose 
himself  to  the  Badger's  sarcasm,  the  bell  rang 
for  luncheon. 

It  was  a  simple  but  sustaining  meal  -  -  bacon 
and  broad  beans,  and  a  macaroni  pudding;  and 
when  they  had  quite  done,  the  Badger  settled 
himself  into  an  arm-chair,  and  said,  'Well, 

320 


'LIKE   SUMMER  TEMPESTS' 

we  've  got  our  work  cut  out  for  us  to-night,  and 
it  will  probably  be  pretty  late  before  we  're 
quite  through  with  it;  so  I  'm  just  going  to 
take  forty  winks,  while  I  can."  And  he  drew  a 
handkerchief  over  his  face  and  was  soon  snoring. 
The  anxious  and  laborious  Rat  at  once  re- 
sumed his  preparations,  and  started  running 
between  his  four  little  heaps,  muttering, 
"Here  's-a-belt-for-the-Rat,  here  's-a-belt-for- 
the-Mole,  here  Va-belt-for-the-Toad,  here  's-a- 
belt-f or-the-Badger ! "  and  so  on,  with  every 
fresh  accoutrement  he  produced,  to  which  there 
seemed  really  no  end;  so  the  Mole  drew  his 
arm  through  Toad's,  led  him  out  into  the  open 
air,  shoved  him  into  a  wicker  chair,  and  made 
him  tell  him  all  his  adventures  from  beginning 
to  end,  which  Toad  was  only  too  willing  to  do. 
The  Mole  was  a  good  listener,  and  Toad,  with 
no  one  to  check  his  statements  or  to  criticise 
in  an  unfriendly  spirit,  rather  let  himself  go. 
Indeed,  much  that  he  related  belonged  more 
properly  to  the  category  of  what-might-have- 
happened-had-I-only-thought-of-it-in-time-in- 
stead-of-ten-minutes-afterwards.  Those  are  al- 

321 


THE   WIND    IN    THE    WILLOWS 

ways  the  best  and  the  raciest  adventures;  and 
why  should  they  not  be  truly  ours,  as  much  as 
the  somewhat  inadequate  things  that  really 
come  off? 


XII 
THE  RETURN   OF  ULYSSES 


XII 
THE   RETURN   OF   ULYSSES 

WHEN  it  began  to  grow  dark,  the  Rat, 
with  an  air  of  excitement  and  mystery, 
summoned  them  back  into  the  parlour,  stood 
each  of  them  up  alongside  of  his  little  heap, 
and  proceeded  to  dress  them  up  for  the  coming 
expedition.  He  was  very  earnest  and  thorough- 
going about  it,  and  the  affair  took  quite  a  long 
time.  First,  there  was  a  belt  to  go  round  each 
animal,  and  then  a  sword  to  be  stuck  into  each 
belt,  and  then  a  cutlass  on  the  other  side  to 
balance  it.  Then  a  pair  of  pistols,  a  policeman's 
truncheon,  several  sets  of  handcuffs,  some  ban- 
dages and  sticking-plaster,  and  a  flask  and  a 
sandwich-case.  The  Badger  laughed  good-hu- 
mouredly  and  said,  "All  right,  Ratty !  It  amuses 
you  and  it  doesn't  hurt  me.  I  'm  going  to  do 
all  I  've  got  to  do  with  this  here  stick."  But 
the  Rat  only  said,  "Please,  Badger.  You  know 

325 


TIIK    WIND    IX    THE    WILLOWS 

I  shouldn't  like  you  to  blame  me  afterwards 
and  say  I  had  forgotten  anything!'1 

When  all  was  quite  ready,  the  Badger  took 
a  dark  lantern  in  one  paw,  grasped  his  great 
stick  with  the  other,  and  said,  "Now  then,  fol- 
low me!  Mole  first,  'cos  I  'm  very  pleased  with 
him;  Rat  next;  Toad  last.  And  look  here, 
Toady!  Don't  you  chatter  so  much  as  usual, 
or  you  '11  be  sent  back,  as  sure  as  fate!" 

The  Toad  was  so  anxious  not  to  be  left  out 
that  he  took  up  the  inferior  position  assigned 
to  him  without  a  murmur,  and  the  animals  set 
off.  The  Badger  led  them  along  by  the  river 
for  a  little  way,  and  then  suddenly  swung  him- 
self over  the  edge  into  a  hole  in  the  river  bank, 
a  little  above  the  water.  The  Mole  and  the 
Rat  followed  silently,  swinging  themselves  suc- 
cessfully into  the  hole  as  they  had  seen  the 
Badger  do;  but  when  it  came  to  Toad's  turn, 
of  course  he  managed  to  slip  and  fall  into  the 
water  with  a  loud  splash  and  a  squeal  of  alarm. 
He  was  hauled  out  by  his  friends,  rubbed  down 
and  wrung  out  hastily,  comforted,  and  set  on 
his  legs;  but  the  Badger  was  seriously  angry, 

326 


Tfif  rttxtyrr  xitiif,  •>  \uit<  then, 
folloii'  tne!" 


THE   RETURN    OF   ULYSSES 

and  told  him  that  the  very  next  time  he  made  a 
fool  of  himself  he  would  most  certainly  be  left 
behind. 

So  at  last  they  were  in  the  secret  passage, 
and  the  cutting-out  expedition  had  really  begun ! 

It  was  cold,  and  dark,  and  damp,  and  low, 
and  narrow,  and  poor  Toad  began  to  shiver, 
partly  from  dread  of  what  might  be  before 
him,  partly  because  he  was  wet  through.  The 
lantern  was  far  ahead,  and  he  could  not  help 
lagging  behind  a  little  in  the  darkness.  Then 
he  heard  the  Rat  call  out  warningly,  "Come  on, 
Toad!"  and  a  terror  seized  him  of  being  left 
behind,  alone  in  the  darkness,  and  he  "came 
on"  with  such  a  rush  that  he  upset  the  Rat  into 
the  Mole,  and  the  Mole  into  the  Badger,  and 
for  a  moment  all  was  confusion.  The  Badger 
thought  they  were  being  attacked  from  behind, 
and,  as  there  was  no  room  to  use  a  stick  or  a 
cutlass,  drew  a  pistol,  and  was  on  the  point  of 
putting  a  bullet  into  Toad.  When  he  found 
out  what  had  really  happened  he  was  very 
angry  indeed,  and  said,  :<Now  this  time  that 
tiresome  Toad  shall  be  left  behind!" 

327 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

But  Toad  whimpered,  and  the  other  two 
promised  that  they  would  be  answerable  for 
his  good  conduct,  and  at  last  the  Badger  was 
pacified,  and  the  procession  moved  on;  only 
this  time  the  Rat  brought  up  the  rear,  with  a 
firm  grip  on  the  shoulder  of  Toad. 

So  they  groped  and  shuffled  along,  with  their 
ears  pricked  up  and  their  paws  on  their  pistols, 
till  at  last  the  Badger  said,  "We  ought  by  now 
to  be  pretty  nearly  under  the  Hall." 

Then  suddenly  they  heard,  far  away  as  it 
might  be,  and  yet  apparently  nearly  over  their 
heads,  a  confused  murmur  of  sound,  as  if  people 
were  shouting  and  cheering  and  stamping  on 
the  floor  and  hammering  on  tables.  The  Toad's 
nervous  terrors  all  returned,  but  the  Badger 
only  remarked  placidly,  'They  are  going  it, 
the  weasels!" 

The  passage  now  began  to  slope  upwards; 
they  groped  onward  a  little  further,  and  then 
the  noise  broke  out  again,  quite  distinct  this 
time,  and  very  close  above  them.  "Ooo-ray-oo- 
ray-oo-ray-ooray ! "  they  heard,  and  the  stamp- 
ing of  little  feet  on  the  floor,  and  the  clinking 

328 


THE   RETURN   OF    ULYSSES 

of  glasses  as  little  fists  pounded  on  the  ta- 
ble. "What  a  time  they're  having!"  said  the 
Badger.  " Come  on!"  They  hurried  along  the 
passage  till  it  came  to  a  full  stop,  and  they 
found  themselves  standing  under  the  trap-door 
that  led  up  into  the  butler's  pantry. 

Such  a  tremendous  noise  was  going  on  in 
the  banqueting-hall  that  there  was  little  dan- 
ger of  their  being  overheard.  The  Badger  said, 
"Now,  boys,  all  together!"  and  the  four  of 
them  put  their  shoulders  to  the  trap-door  and 
heaved  it  back.  Hoisting  each  other  up,  they 
found  themselves  standing  in  the  pantry,  with 
only  a  door  between  them  and  the  banqueting- 
hall,  where  their  unconscious  enemies  were  ca- 
rousing. 

The  noise,  as  they  emerged  from  the  passage, 
was  simply  deafening.  At  last,  as  the  cheering 
and  hammering  slowly  subsided,  a  voice  could 
be  made  out  saying,  'Well,  I  do  not  propose 
to  detain  you  much  longer"  —  (great  applause) 
—  "but  before  I  resume  my  seat"  —  (renewed 
cheering)  —  "I  should  like  to  say  one  word 
about  our  kind  host,  Mr.  Toad.  We  all  know 

329 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

Toad!"     -  (great  laughter)  -     "Good  Toad,  mod- 
est Toad,  honest  Toad!"  (shrieks  of  merriment). 

"Only  just  let  me  get  at  him!"  muttered 
Toad,  grinding  his  teeth. 

"Hold  hard  a  minute!"  said  the  Badger, 
restraining  him  with  difficulty.  :'Get  ready,  all 
of  you!" 

-  Let  me  sing  you  a  little  song,"  went  on 
the  voice,  "which  I  have  composed  on  the  sub- 
ject of  Toad"  —  (prolonged  applause). 

Then   the   Chief  Weasel  —  for   it   was   he  - 
began  in  a  high,  squeaky  voice  — 

"Toad  he  went  a-pleasuring 
Gaily  down  the  street — " 

The  Badger  drew  himself  up,  took  a  firm 
grip  of  his  stick  with  both  paws,  glanced  round 
at  his  comrades,  and  cried  — 

'The  hour  is  come!     Follow  me!" 

And  flung  the  door  open  wide. 

My! 

What  a  squealing  and  a  squeaking  and  a 
screeching  filled  the  air! 

Well  might  the  terrified  weasels  dive  under 

330 


THE   RETURN    OF    ULYSSES 

the  tables  and  spring  madly  up  at  the  windows! 
Well  might  the  ferrets  rush  wildly  for  the  fire- 
place and  get  hopelessly  jammed  in  the  chim- 
ney! Well  might  tables  and  chairs  be  upset, 
and  glass  and  china  be  sent  crashing  on  the  floor, 
in  the  panic  of  that  terrible  moment  when  the 
four  Heroes  strode  wrathfully  into  the  room! 
The  mighty  Badger,  his  whiskers  bristling,  his 
great  cudgel  whistling  through  the  air;  Mole, 
black  and  grim,  brandishing  his  stick  and 
shouting  his  awful  war-cry,  "A  Mole!  A 
Mole!"  Rat,  desperate  and  determined,  his 
belt  bulging  with  weapons  of  every  age  and 
every  variety;  Toad,  frenzied  with  excitement 
and  injured  pride,  swollen  to  twice  his  ordinary 
size,  leaping  into  the  air  and  emitting  Toad- 
whoops  that  chilled  them  to  the  marrow! 
'Toad  he  went  a-pleasuring ! "  he  yelled.  "7  'II 
pleasure  'em!"  and  he  went  straight  for  the 
Chief  Weasel.  They  were  but  four  in  all,  but 
to  the  panic-stricken  weasels  the  hall  seemed  full 
of  monstrous  animals,  grey,  black,  brown  and 
yellow,  whooping  and  flourishing  enormous  cudg- 
els; and  they  broke  and  fled  with  squeals  of 

331 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

terror  and  dismay,  this  way  and  that,  through 
the  windows,  up  the  chimney,  anywhere  to  get 
out  of  reach  of  those  terrible  sticks. 

The  affair  was  soon  over.  Up  and  down, 
the  whole  length  of  the  hall,  strode  the  four 
Friends,  whacking  with  their  sticks  at  every 
head  that  showed  itself;  and  in  five  minutes 
the  room  was  cleared.  Through  the  broken 
windows  the  shrieks  of  terrified  weasels  escaping 
across  the  lawn  were  borne  faintly  to  their  ears; 
on  the  floor  lay  prostrate  some  dozen  or  so  of 
the  enemy,  on  whom  the  Mole  was  busily 
engaged  in  fitting  handcuffs.  The  Badger,  rest- 
ing from  his  labours,  leant  on  his  stick  and 
wiped  his  honest  brow. 

:'Mole,"  he  said,  "y°u  're  the  best  of  fellows! 
Just  cut  along  outside  and  look  after  those 
stoat-sentries  of  yours,  and  see  what  they  're 
doing.  I  've  an  idea  that,  thanks  to  you,  we 
shan't  have  much  trouble  from  them  to-night!" 

The  Mole  vanished  promptly  through  a  win- 
dow; and  the  Badger  bade  the  other  two  set  a 
table  on  its  legs  again,  pick  up  knives  and  forks 
and  plates  and  glasses  from  the  debris  on  the 

332 


THE   RETURN   OF    ULYSSES 

floor,  and  see  if  they  could  find  materials  for  a 
supper.  "I  want  some  grub,  I  do,"  he  said,  in 
that  rather  common  way  he  had  of  speaking. 
"Stir  your  stumps,  Toad,  and  look  lively! 
We  've  got  your  house  back  for  you,  and  you 
don't  offer  us  so  much  as  a  sandwich." 

Toad  felt  rather  hurt  that  the  Badger  didn't 
say  pleasant  things  to  him,  as  he  had  to  the 
Mole,  and  tell  him  what  a  fine  fellow  he  was, 
and  how  splendidly  he  had  fought;  for  he  was 
rather  particularly  pleased  with  himself  and  the 
way  he  had  gone  for  the  Chief  Weasel  and  sent 
him  flying  across  the  table  with  one  blow  of  his 
stick.  But  he  bustled  about,  and  so  did  the 
Rat,  and  soon  they  found  some  guava  jelly  in  a 
glass  dish,  and  a  cold  chicken,  a  tongue  that 
had  hardly  been  touched,  some  trifle,  and  quite 
a  lot  of  lobster  salad;  and  in  the  pantry  they 
came  upon  a  basketful  of  French  rolls  and  any 
quantity  of  cheese,  butter,  and  celery.  They 
were  just  about  to  sit  down  when  the  Mole 
clambered  in  through  the  window,  chuckling, 
with  an  armful  of  rifles. 

"It 's  all  over,"  he  reported.  "From  what  I 

333 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

can  make  out,  as  soon  as  the  stoats,  who  were 
very  nervous  and  jumpy  already,  heard  the 
shrieks  and  the  yells  and  the  uproar  inside  t'le 
hull,  some  of  them  threw  down  their  rifles  and 
fled.  The  others  stood  fast  for  a  bit,  but  when 
the  weasels  came  rushing  out  upon  them  they 
thought  they  were  betrayed;  and  the  stoats 
grappled  with  the  weasels,  and  the  weasels 
fought  to  get  away,  and  they  wrestled  and 
wriggled  and  punched  each  other,  and  rolled 
over  and  over,  till  most  of  'em  rolled  into  the 
river!  They  've  all  disappeared  by  now,  one 
way  or  another;  and  I  've  got  their  rifles.  So 
that's  all  right!" 

" Excellent  and  deserving  animal!"  said  the 
Badger,  his  mouth  full  of  chicken  and  trifle. 
"Now,  there  's  just  one  more  thing  I  want  you 
to  do,  Mole,  before  you  sit  down  to  your  supper 
along  of  us;  and  I  wouldn't  trouble  you  only  I 
know  I  can  trust  you  to  see  a  thing  done,  and 
I  wish  I  could  say  the  same  of  every  one  I  know. 
I  'd  send  Rat,  if  he  wasn't  a  poet.  I  want  you 
to  take  those  fellows  on  the  floor  there  upstairs 
with  you,  and  have  some  bedrooms  cleaned 

334 


THE   RETURN   OF    ULYSSES 

out  and  tidied  up  and  made  really  comfortable. 
See  that  they  sweep  under  the  beds,  and  put 
clean  sheets  and  pillow-cases  on,  and  turn  down 
one  corner  of  the  bed-clothes,  just  as  you  know 
it  ought  to  be  done;  and  have  a  can  of  hot 
water,  and  clean  towels,  and  fresh  cakes  of  soap, 
put  in  each  room.  And  then  you  can  give  them 
a  licking  a-piece,  if  it 's  any  satisfaction  to  you, 
and  put  them  out  by  the  back-door,  and  we 
shan't  see  any  more  of  them,  I  fancy.  And 
then  come  along  and  have  some  of  this  cold 
tongue.  It 's  first  rate.  I  'm  very  pleased  with 
you,  Mole!" 

The  good-natured  Mole  picked  up  a  stick, 
formed  his  prisoners  up  in  a  line  on  the  floor, 
gave  them  the  order  "Quick  march!"  and  led 
his  squad  off  to  the  upper  floor.  After  a  time, 
he  appeared  again,  smiling,  and  said  that  every 
room  was  ready  and  as  clean  as  a  new  pin. 
"And  I  didn't  have  to  lick  them,  either,"  he 
added.  "I  thought,  on  the  whole,  they  had  had 
licking  enough  for  one  night,  and  the  weasels, 
when  I  put  the  point  to  them,  quite  agreed  with 
me,  and  said  they  wouldn't  think  of  troubling 

335 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

me.  They  were  very  penitent,  and  said  they 
were  extremely  sorry  for  what  they  had  done, 
but  it  was  all  the  fault  of  the  Chief  Weasf  i  and 
the  stoats,  and  if  ever  they  could  do  anything 
for  us  at  any  time  to  make  up,  we  had  only  got 
to  mention  it.  So  I  gave  them  a  roll  a-piece, 
and  let  them  out  at  the  back,  and  off  they  ran, 
as  hard  as  they  could!" 

Then  the  Mole  pulled  his  chair  up  to  the  table, 
and  pitched  into  the  cold  tongue;  and  Toad, 
like  the  gentleman  he  was,  put  all  his  jealousy 
from  him,  and  said  heartily,  "Thank  you  kindly, 
dear  Mole,  for  all  your  pains  and  trouble  to- 
night, and  especially  for  your  cleverness  this 
morning!"  The  Badger  was  pleased  at  that, 
and  said,  "There  spoke  my  brave  Toad!"  So 
they  finished  their  supper  in  great  joy  and  con- 
tentment, and  presently  retired  to  rest  between 
clean  sheets,  safe  in  Toad's  ancestral  home,  won 
back  by  matchless  valour,  consummate  strat- 
egy, and  a  proper  handling  of  sticks. 

The  following  morning,  Toad,  who  had  over- 
slept himself  as  usual,  came  down  to  breakfast 
disgracefully  late,  and  found  on  the  table  a  cer- 

336 


THE   RETURN   OF   ULYSSES 

tain  quantity  of  egg-shells,  some  fragments 
of  cold  and  leathery  toast,  a  coffee-pot  three- 
fourths  empty,  and  really  very  little  else;  which 
did  not  tend  to  improve  his  temper,  considering 
that,  after  all,  it  was  his  own  house.  Through 
the  French  windows  of  the  breakfast-room  he 
could  see  the  Mole  and  the  Water  Rat  sitting 
in  wicker  chairs  out  on  the  lawn,  evidently 
telling  each  other  stories;  roaring  with  laughter 
and  kicking  their  short  legs  up  in  the  air.  The 
Badger,  who  was  in  an  arm-chair  and  deep  in 
the  morning  paper,  merely  looked  up  and 
nodded  when  Toad  entered  the  room.  But 
Toad  knew  his  man,  so  he  sat  down  and  made 
the  best  breakfast  he  could,  merely  observing 
to  himself  that  he  would  get  square  with  the 
others  sooner  or  later.  When  he  had  nearly 
finished,  the  Badger  looked  up  and  remarked 
rather  shortly:  "I  'm  sorry,  Toad,  but  I  'm 
afraid  there  's  a  heavy  morning's  work  in  front 
of  you.  You  see,  we  really  ought  to  have  a 
Banquet  at  once,  to  celebrate  this  affair.  It 's 
expected  of  you  —  in  fact,  it 's  the  rule." 
"O,  all  right!"  said  the  Toad,  readily.  "Any- 

337 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

thing  to  oblige.  Though  why  on  earth  you 
should  want  to  have  a  Banquet  in  the  morning 
I  cannot  understand.  But  you  know  I  do  not 
live  to  please  myself,  but  merely  to  find  out 
what  my  friends  want,  and  then  try  and  arrange 
it  for  'em,  you  dear  old  Badger!" 

'Don't  pretend  to  be  stupider  than  you  really 
are,"  replied  the  Badger,  crossly;  "and  don't 
chuckle  and  splutter  in  your  coffee  while  you  're 
talking;  it 's  not  manners.  What  I  mean  is, 
the  Banquet  will  be  at  night,  of  course,  but  the 
invitations  will  have  to  be  written  and  got  off 
at  once,  and  you  've  got  to  write  'em.  Now  sit 
down  at  that  table  -  -  there  's  stacks  of  letter- 
paper  on  it,  with  'Toad  Hall'  at  the  top  in 
blue  and  gold  —  and  write  invitations  to  all  our 
friends,  and  if  you  stick  to  it  we  shall  get  them 
out  before  luncheon.  And  I  'II  bear  a  hand,  too, 
and  take  my  share  of  the  burden.  /  '//  order 
the  Banquet." 

"What!"  cried  Toad,  dismayed.  "Me  stop 
indoors  and  write  a  lot  of  rotten  letters  on  a 
jolly  morning  like  this,  when  I  want  to  go 
around  my  property  and  set  everything  and 

338 


THE   RETURN   OF   ULYSSES 

everybody  to  rights,  and  swagger  about  and 
enjoy  myself!  Certainly  not!  I'll  be  -  - 1 '11 
see  you  —  Stop  a  minute,  though !  Why,  of 
course,  dear  Badger!  What  is  my  pleasure  or 
convenience  compared  with  that  of  others !  You 
wish  it  done,  and  it  shall  be  done.  Go,  Badger, 
order  the  Banquet,  order  what  you  like;  then 
join  our  young  friends  outside  in  their  innocent 
mirth,  oblivious  of  me  and  my  cares  and  toils. 
I  sacrifice  this  fair  morning  on  the  altar  of  duty 
and  friendship!" 

The  Badger  looked  at  him  very  suspiciously, 
but  Toad's  frank,  open  countenance  made  it 
difficult  to  suggest  any  unworthy  motive  in  this 
change  of  attitude.  He  quitted  the  room, 
accordingly,  in  the  direction  of  the  kitchen,  and 
as  soon  as  the  door  had  closed  behind  him, 
Toad  hurried  to  the  writing-table.  A  fine  idea 
had  occurred  to  him  while  he  was  talking.  He 
would  write  the  invitations;  and  he  would  take 
care  to  mention  the  leading  part  he  had  taken 
in  the  fight,  and  how  he  had  laid  the  Chief 
Weasel  flat;  and  he  would  hint  at  his  adven- 
tures, and  what  a  career  of  triumph  he  had  to 

339 


THE   WIND   IN   THE   WILLOWS 

tell  about;  and  on  the  fly-leaf  he  would  set  out 
a  sort  of  a  programme  of  entertainment  for  the 
evening  -  -  something  like  this,  as  he  sketched 
it  out  in  his  head:  — 

SPEECH BY  TOAD. 

(There  will  be  other  speeches  by  TOAD  during 
the  evening.) 

ADDRESS BY  TOAD 

SYNOPSIS — Our  Prison  System — the  Waterways  of  Old 
England — Horse-dealing,  and  how  to  deal — Property, 
its  rights  and  its  duties — Back  to  the  Land — A 
Typical  English  Squire. 

SONG BY  TOAD. 

(Composed  by  himself.) 

OTHER  COMPOSITIONS     ...      BY  TOAD 

will  be  sung  in  the  course  of  the 
evening  by  the  .  .  .  COMPOSER. 

The  idea  pleased  him  mightily,  and  he 
worked  very  hard  and  got  all  the  letters  finished 
by  noon,  at  which  hour  it  was  reported  to  him 
that  there  was  a  small  and  rather  bedraggled 
weasel  at  the  door,  inquiring  timidly  whether 
he  could  be  of  any  service  to  the  gentleman. 
Toad  swaggered  out  and  found  it  was  one  of  the 
prisoners  of  the  previous  evening,  very  respect- 

340 


THE   RETURN   OF   ULYSSES 

ful  and  anxious  to  please.  He  patted  him  on 
the  head,  shoved  the  bundle  of  invitations  into 
his  paw,  and  told  him  to  cut  along  quick  and 
deliver  them  as  fast  as  he  could,  and  if  he  liked 
to  come  back  again  in  the  evening,  perhaps 
there  might  be  a  shilling  for  him,  or,  again, 
perhaps  there  mightn't;  and  the  poor  weasel 
seemed  really  quite  grateful,  and  hurried  off 
eagerly  to  do  his  mission. 

When  the  other  animals  came  back  to  lunch- 
eon, very  boisterous  and  breezy  after  a  morn- 
ing on  the  river,  the  Mole,  whose  conscience 
had  been  pricking  him,  looked  doubtfully  at 
Toad,  expecting  to  find  him  sulky  or  depressed. 
Instead,  he  was  so  uppish  and  inflated  that 
the  Mole  began  to  suspect  something;  while 
the  Rat  and  the  Badger  exchanged  significant 
glances. 

As  soon  as  the  meal  was  over,  Toad  thrust 
his  paws  deep  into  his  trouser-pockets,  re- 
marked casually,  "Well,  look  after  yourselves, 
you  fellows!  Ask  for  anything  you  want!"  and 
was  swaggering  off  in  the  direction  of  the  gar- 
den, where  he  wanted  to  think  out  an  idea  or 

341 


THE   WIND    IN    THE   WILLOWS 

two  for  his  coming  speeches,  when  the  Rat 
caught  him  by  the  arm. 

Toad  rather  suspected  what  he  was  after, 
and  did  his  best  to  get  away;  but  when  the 
Badger  took  him  firmly  by  the  other  arm  he 
began  to  see  that  the  game  was  up.  The  two 
animals  conducted  him  between  them  into  the 
small  smoking-room  that  opened  out  of  the 
entrance-hall,  shut  the  door,  and  put  him  into  a 
chair.  Then  they  both  stood  in  front  of  him, 
while  Toad  sat  silent  and  regarded  them  with 
much  suspicion  and  ill-humour. 

"Now,  look  here,  Toad,"  said  the  Rat.  "It 's 
about  this  Banquet,  and  very  sorry  I  am  to 
have  to  speak  to  you  like  this.  But  we  want 
you  to  understand  clearly,  once  and  for  all,  that 
there  are  going  to  be  no  speeches  and  no  songs. 
Try  and  grasp  the  fact  that  on  this  occasion 
we  're  not  arguing  with  you;  we  're  just  telling 

you." 

Toad  saw  that  he  was  trapped.  They  under- 
stood him,  they  saw  through  him,  they  had  got 
ahead  of  him.  His  pleasant  dream  was  shat- 
tered. 

342 


THE   RETURN    OF   ULYSSES 

:' Mayn't  I  sing  them  just  one  little  song?" 
he  pleaded  piteously. 

"No,  not  one  little  song,"  replied  the  Rat 
firmly,  though  his  heart  bled  as  he  noticed  the 
trembling  lip  of  the  poor  disappointed  Toad. 
"It 's  no  good,  Toady;  you  know  well  that  your 
songs  are  all  conceit  and  boasting  and  vanity; 
and  your  speeches  are  all  self-praise  and  —  and 
—  well,  and  gross  exaggeration  and  —  and  — ' 

"And  gas,"  put  in  the  Badger,  in  his  common 
way. 

"It's  for  your  own  good,  Toady,"  went  on 
the  Rat.  'You  know  you  must  turn  over  a  new 
leaf  sooner  or  later,  and  now  seems  a  splendid 
time  to  begin;  a  sort  of  turning-point  in  your 
career.  Please  don't  think  that  saying  all  this 
doesn't  hurt  me  more  than  it  hurts  you." 

Toad  remained  a  long  while  plunged  in 
thought.  At  last  he  raised  his  head,  and  the 
traces  of  strong  emotion  were  visible  on  his 
features.  'You  have  conquered,  my  friends," 
he  said  in  broken  accents.  "It  was,  to  be  sure, 
but  a  small  thing  that  I  asked  -  -  merely  leave 
to  blossom  and  expand  for  yet  one  more  even- 

343 


THE    WIND    IN   THE    WILLOWS 

ing,  to  let  myself  go  and  hear  the  tumultuous 
applause  that  always  seems  to  me  —  somehow 
—  to  bring  out  my  best  qualities.  However, 
you  are  right,  I  know,  and  I  am  wrong.  Hence- 
forth I  will  be  a  very  different  Toad.  My 
friends,  you  shall  never  have  occasion  to  blush 
for  me  again.  But,  O  dear,  O  dear,  this  is  a 
hard  world!" 

And,  pressing  his  handkerchief  to  his  face,  he 
left  the  room,  with  faltering  footsteps. 

"Badger,"  said  the  Rat,  "/feel  like  a  brute;  I 
wonder  what  you  feel  like?'' 

"O,  I  know,  I  know,"  said  the  Badger  gloom- 
ily. "But  the  thing  had  to  be  done.  This 
good  fellow  has  got  to  live  here,  and  hold  his 
own,  and  be  respected.  Would  you  have  him  a 
common  laughing-stock,  mocked  and  jeered  at 
by  stoats  and  weasels?'' 

"Of  course  not,"  said  the  Rat.  "And,  talking 
of  weasels,  it 's  lucky  we  came  upon  that  little 
weasel,  just  as  he  was  setting  out  with  Toad's 
invitations.  I  suspected  something  from  what 
you  told  me,  and  had  a  look  at  one  or  two; 
they  were  simply  disgraceful.  I  confiscated  the 

344 


THE   RETURN   OF   ULYSSES 

lot,  and  the  good  Mole  is  now  sitting  in  the 
blue  boudoir,  filling  up  plain,  simple  invitation 
cards.' 


At  last  the  hour  for  the  banquet  began  to 
draw  near,  and  Toad,  who  on  leaving  the  others 
had  retired  to  his  bedroom,  was  still  sitting 
there,  melancholy  and  thoughtful.  His  brow 
resting  on  his  paw,  he  pondered  long  and 
deeply.  Gradually  his  countenance  cleared,  and 
he  began  to  smile  long,  slow  smiles.  Then 
he  took  to  giggling  in  a  shy,  self-conscious 
manner.  At  last  he  got  up,  locked  the  door, 
drew  the  curtains  across  the  windows,  collected 
all  the  chairs  in  the  room  and  arranged  them  in 
a  semicircle,  and  took  up  his  position  in  front 
of  them,  swelling  visibly.  Then  he  bowed, 
coughed  twice,  and,  letting  himself  go,  with 
uplifted  voice  he  sang,  to  the  enraptured  audi- 
ence that  his  imagination  so  clearly  saw: 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

TOAD'S  LAST  LITTLE  SONG 

The  Toad — came — home! 

There  was  panic  in  the  parlours  and  howling  in  the  halls, 

There  was  crying  in  the  cow-sheds  and  shrieking  in  the 

stalls, 
When  the  Toad — came — home! 

When  the  Toad — came — home! 

There  was  smashing  in  of  window  and  crashing  in  of  door, 
There  was  chivvying  of  weasels  that  fainted  on  the  floor, 
When  the  Toad — came — home! 

Bang !   go  the  drums ! 

The  trumpeters  are  tooting  and  the  soldiers  are  saluting, 

And  the  cannon  they  are  shooting  and  the  motor-cars  are 

hooting, 
As  the — Hero — comes! 

Shout — Hoo-ray ! 

And  let  each  one  of  the  crowd  try  and  shout  it  very  loud, 
In  honour  of  an  animal  of  whom  you  're  justly  proud, 
For  it 's  Toad's — great — day! 

He  sang  this  very  loud,  with  great  unction 
and  expression;  and  when  he  had  done,  he 
sang  it  all  over  again. 

Then  he  heaved  a  deep  sigh;  a  long,  long, 
long  sigh. 

346 


THE   RETURN    OF   ULYSSES 

Then  he  dipped  his  hairbrush  in  the  water- 
jug,  parted  his  hair  in  the  middle,  and  plastered 
it  down  very  straight  and  sleek  on  each  side 
of  his  face;  and,  unlocking  the  door,  went  qui- 
etly down  the  stairs  to  greet  his  guests,  who 
he  knew  must  be  assembling  in  the  drawing- 
room. 

All  the  animals  cheered  when  he  entered,  and 
crowded  round  to  congratulate  him  and  say 
nice  things  about  his  courage,  and  his  clever- 
ness, and  his  fighting  qualities;  but  Toad  only 
smiled  faintly,  and  murmured,  :'Not  at  all!" 
Or,  sometimes,  for  a  change,  "On  the  contrary!" 
Otter,  who  was  standing  on  the  hearthrug,  de- 
scribing to  an  admiring  circle  of  friends  exactly 
how  he  would  have  managed  things  had  he 
been  there,  came  forward  with  a  shout,  threw 
his  arm  round  Toad's  neck,  and  tried  to  take 
him  round  the  room  in  triumphal  progress;  but 
Toad,  in  a  mild  way,  was  rather  snubby  to  him, 
remarking  gently,  as  he  disengaged  himself, 
" Badger's  was  the  master  mind;  the  Mole  and 
the  Water  Rat  bore  the  brunt  of  the  fighting; 
I  merely  served  in  the  ranks  and  did  little  or 

347 


THE   WIND   IN   THE   WILLOWS 

nothing."  The  animals  were  evidently  puzzled 
and  taken  aback  by  this  unexpected  attitude 
of  his;  and  Toad  felt,  as  he  moved  from  one 
guest  to  the  other,  making  his  modest  responses, 
that  he  was  an  object  of  absorbing  interest  to 
every  one. 

The  Badger  had  ordered  everything  of  the 
best,  and  the  banquet  was  a  great  success. 
There  was  much  talking  and  laughter  and  chaff 
among  the  animals,  but  through  it  all  Toad, 
who  of  course  was  in  the  chair,  looked  down  his 
nose  and  murmured  pleasant  nothings  to  the 
animals  on  either  side  of  him.  At  intervals  he 
stole  a  glance  at  the  Badger  and  the  Rat,  and 
always  when  he  looked  they  were  staring  at 
each  other  with  their  mouths  open;  and  this 
gave  him  the  greatest  satisfaction.  Some  of 
the  younger  and  livelier  animals,  as  the  evening 
wore  on,  got  whispering  to  each  other  that 
things  were  not  so  amusing  as  they  used  to  be 
in  the  good  old  days;  and  there  were  some 
knockings  on  the  table  and  cries  of  'Toad! 
Speech!  Speech  from  Toad !  Song!  Mr.  Toad's 
song!"  But  Toad  only  shook  his  head  gently, 

348 


THE  RETURN   OF  ULYSSES 

raised  one  paw  in  mild  protest,  and,  by  pressing 
delicacies  on  his  guests,  by  topical  small-talk, 
and  by  earnest  inquiries  after  members  of  their 
families  not  yet  old  enough  to  appear  at  social 
functions,  managed  to  convey  to  them  that  this 
dinner  was  being  run  on  strictly  conventional 
lines. 

He  was  indeed  an  altered  Toad! 


After  this  climax,  the  four  animals  continued 
to  lead  their  lives,  so  rudely  broken  in  upon  by 
civil  war,  in  great  joy  and  contentment,  undis- 
turbed by  further  risings  or  invasions.  Toad, 
after  due  consultation  with  his  friends,  selected 
a  handsome  gold  chain  and  locket  set  with 
pearls,  which  he  dispatched  to  the  gaoler's 
daughter,  with  a  letter  that  even  the  Badger 
admitted  to  be  modest,  grateful,  and  apprecia- 
tive; and  the  engine-driver,  in  his  turn,  was 
properly  thanked  and  compensated  for  all  his 
pains  and  trouble.  Under  severe  compulsion 
from  the  Badger,  even  the  barge-woman  was, 
with  some  trouble,  sought  out  and  the  value  of 

349 


THE   WIND    IN   THE   WILLOWS 

her  horse  discreetly  made  good  to  her;  though 
Toad  kicked  terribly  at  this,  holding  himself  to 
be  an  instrument  of  Fate,  sent  to  punish  fat 
women  with  mottled  arms  who  couldn't  tell  a 
real  gentleman  when  they  saw  one.  The  amount 
involved,  it  was  true,  was  not  very  burdensome, 
the  gipsy's  valuation  being  admitted  by  local 
assessors  to  be  approximately  correct. 

Sometimes,  in  the  course  of  long  summer 
evenings,  the  friends  would  take  a  stroll  together 
in  the  Wild  Wood,  now  successfully  tamed  so 
far  as  they  were  concerned;  and  it  was  pleasing 
to  see  how  respectfully  they  were  greeted  by 
the  inhabitants,  and  how  the  mother-weasels 
would  bring  their  young  ones  to  the  mouths  of 
their  holes,  and  say,  pointing,  "Look,  baby! 
There  goes  the  great  Mr.  Toad!  And  that 's 
the  gallant  Water  Rat,  a  terrible  fighter,  walk- 
ing along  o'  him!  And  yonder  comes  the 
famous  Mr.  Mole,  of  whom  you  so  often  have 
heard  your  father  tell!"  But  when  their  infants 
were  fractious  and  quite  beyond  control,  they 
would  quiet  them  by  telling  how,  if  they  didn't 
hush  them  and  not  fret  them,  the  terrible  grey 

350 


THE   RETURN    OF   ULYSSES 

Badger  would  up  and  get  them.  This  was  a 
base  libel  on  Badger,  who,  though  he  cared 
little  about  Society,  was  rather  fond  of  children ; 
but  it  never  failed  to  have  its  full  effect. 


CENTRAL   CIRCULATION 
CHILDREN'S    ROOM 


170-32 
23-04